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Favourite Books of 2019

The Booksfortopics Best of 2019
2019 has been another fantastic year for children's books and this year the choice of 'favourite book' seems harder than ever!

 

We asked our community of teachers, TAs, authors, librarians and book lovers to nominate their favourite children's books published in 2019. 


This is what they told us... 

The Good Thieves

Katherine Rundell

Nominated by: Jo Clarke (@bookloverjo), School Librarian & blogger at bookloverjo.wordpress.com

 

Jo says: " A new book by Katherine Rundell is always a joy to behold and ‘The Good Thieves,’ is no exception. Katherine has surpassed my expectations by creating a nail-biting heist that is extraordinarily compelling. Packed with action, thrills, spills and the unexpected it keeps the reader firmly on the edge of their seat. I just adored every page of this gorgeous story. Exquisite characterisation meets sublime storytelling in this spectacular ride of an adventure."


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Land of Roar

Jenny McLachlan & Ben Mantle

Nominated by:  Katie (@wishesandstars), Year 5 Class Teacher and also by Emily Weston (@primaryteachew), Year 6 Teacher & Reading Lead

 

Katie says: "An instantly gripping adventure where childhood games become reality for two twins. A fantastic portal story where you can't help but be dragged into this magical land of make-believe." 

Emily says: "This book is full of imagination, adventure and excitement! It grips you from the first page to the last and keeps you wanting more...so it’s a good thing there’s a sequel coming!" 

The Girl who Speaks Bear

Sophie Anderson & Kathrin Honesta

Nominated by: Louise Cross (@lcrossreads), teaching assistant in Year 5/6; Nia Talbot (@niatalbot), assistant headteacher; Jo Young, librarian and TA

Louise says: "A beautifully told story of family, friendship and acceptance. Utterly bewitching."

Nia says: "This breath-taking book is full of magic, adventure but, most importantly, the importance of belonging. I love the mythical edge to the story and how it enchants its readers."

Jo says: "A magical story of discovery, friendship and self-discovery. A perfect story for KS2 up. Loved it!"

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Ghost

Jason Reynolds

Nominated by: Dean Boddington (@misterbodd), Class Teacher

 

Dean says: "A phenomenal read. I wanted to run down to the book shop buy 180 copies and give them to all the Year 5s and 6s at my school. Why did I love it? Well it’s not your usual rags to riches story - there is so much more to this even though it’s just over 200 pages long. I’d imagine that this will help with its popularity! When you finish it, you know that you’re holding something special in your hands. Throughout the book we see the part of Ghost’s journey; how he makes the wrong choices and the consequences that they bring. You are shouting at him in your head (or out loud if that’s your thing) and you’re waiting for everything to come crashing down. Your heart will leap and be crushed from one page to the next! I have warned you."

North Child

Edith Pattou

Nominated by: Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace), children's author of The House With Chicken Legs (available here) & The Girl Who Speaks Bear (available here)

 

Sophie says: "An unforgettable, glittering, epic fairytale that held me and my children entranced as winter closed around us!"

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The Middler

Kirsty Applebaum

Nominated by: Hana Tooke (@hannekewrites), author of upcoming children's book The Unadoptables (available to pre-order here)

 

Hana says: "A stunning and magical story. A fabulous sequel. Beautifully written, filled with rich and vivid descriptions. Well rounded and engaging characters with a hint of darkness to engage older readers and keep them on their toes. A remarkable piece of writing. Loved it!"

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No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Catherine Bruton

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics and also by Sarah Atherton (@missatherton97), trainee teacher

Alison says: "A gripping and thought-provoking story exploring the experience of an eleven-year-old girl called Aya as she flees conflict in Syria and attempts to seek asylum in the UK. No Ballet Shoes in Syria is an important story that is beautifully told with warmth and compassion. A superb read suitable for upper KS2."

Sarah says: " Absolutely perfect! No more words needed."

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The Creakers (The Musical Edition)

Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries

Nominated by: Lisa Davies (@singinglisajo), Deputy Head 

 

Lisa  says: "I read this book to the whole school for a half term. When we got to the end of the time, they insisted that I read it for another half term so that they could hear the end. That’s a ringing endorsement from 300 children! They loved the music that came with it as well."

The Wall in the Middle of the Book

Jon Agee

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics

 

Alison says; "The Wall in the Middle of the Book is a story about overcoming preconceptions and breaking through barriers and divisions between different groups of characters. Jon Agee cleverly uses the ‘gutter’ space that runs down the middle of the picture book spread as the wall between the two opposing sides and the main character is surprised to find that the other side of the wall is a much friendlier place than he imagined. A brilliantly witty book that also gives pause for thought."

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The Umbrella Mouse

Anna Fargher & Sam Usher

Nominated by:  Sarah Salmon (@norfolkbookworm), Library Assistant

Sarah says: "A book given to me by my 9-year-old nephew and one that held him, me (42) and his 70 year-old grandparents gripped! Lots to talk about and brilliantly written."

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A Mouse Called Julian

Joe Todd Stanton

Nominated by:  Paul Watson (@PaulWat5), Teacher

 

Paul  says: "A sweet tale that has a timeless quality. The mouse in question is introverted and clever yet his world is exposed due to an untimely visitor."

The Titanic Detective Agency

Lindsay Littleson

Nominated by: Barbara Henderson (@scattyscribbler), Drama teacher & children's author of books including including Wilderness Wars (available here)

Barbara says: "A really well-researched and interesting take on the Titanic topic. The key characters are real passengers whose photos are included at the end of the book and Bertha is a heroine everyone will love! Loads of historical detail is cleverly woven in and the publisher's website has teaching resources. Excellent!" 

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She Wolf

Dan Smith

Nominated by: Claire Webb, Year 3 Class Teacher

 

Claire says: "A book about trusting the unknown, friendship and loyalty; about loss and suspicion. A strong female main character is on a mission to seek the truth and finds herself on the way. This book is full of adventure and suspense and would suit boys and girls alike. Lots of action and tension recreated by the use of wonderful language. A rollercoaster of action and reflection and some unexpected surprises thrown in. I absolutely loved it!!

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Lights on Cotton Rock

David Lichfield

Nominated by: : Melissa Jordan (@melissacreate15), Book seller and Reading Advocate

Melissa says: "Another stunningly illustrated book. For anyone who has ever wondered what may lie beyond earth. I love that the young girl who wishes she could travel with an Alien grows old in the story. Will she get her wish and what might she learn about what makes 'home' special in the process? A book you will want to revisit many times."

Mr Wolf’s Class: Mystery Club

Aron Nels Steinke

Nominated by: Richard Ruddick (@RuddickRichard), Year 5/6 Teacher

Richard says: "A brilliant book that accurately reflects the realities of day to day teaching and learning in a light-hearted but honest manner."

The Dragon in the Library

Louie Stowell & Davide Ortu

Nominated by: Anonymous Community Reviewer

 

"There are dragons. Wizards. Evil bad guys with bad hair. And at the centre, three kids who are determined to save their local library - and not just because libraries are important! If they don’t, humans might go the way of the dinosaurs! Not only is this a brilliant, funny, enjoyable read - with its reluctant reader main character - it is also excellent at getting reluctant readers reading!"

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The Boy with the Butterfly Mind

Victoria Williamson

Nominated by: Veronica Price (@vonprice), HLTA & part-time librarian

Veronica says: "A beautifully written, perfectly-paced story exploring blended families and the issues arising from living with ADHD. A marvellous book for increasing empathy in upper KS2 and one that should be read by everyone working in a school."

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The Suitcase

Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

Nominated by: Tanya Efthymiou (@TanyaEfthymiou), Primary School Librarian

 

Tanya says: "The Suitcase had an immediate impact on some Year 6s in our library, who were moved to perform it, as the various characters, to classes throughout the school. This empathy-building story of the arrival of a refugee is beautiful and accessible. Chris Naylor-Ballesteros' illustrations have the simplicity to appeal to a young audience, but tell a deeper tale in their detail, which the older children recognised and respected."

The Star Outside My Window

Onjali Q Rauf

Nominated by: Tanja Jennings (@WCBLibrary), school librarian

Tanja says: "This beautifully observed book is an emotional rollercoaster that addresses a serious and painful topic in a sensitive way. 10-year-old Aniyah goes on an important journey as she comes to terms with a traumatic family experience that has changed her and her brother’s lives irrevocably. Her story unfolds as she navigates life in a foster home and forms new relationships. Powerful, empathetic, poignant & thought-provoking, this is a life-changing book that immerses the reader from start to finish."

The Girl With the Shark's Teeth

Cerrie Burnell

Nominated by: Anna Tomlinson (@scoutfinch_75), Teaching Assistant/School Librarian

Anna says: "My 12 year old daughter insisted that we vote for this book. Minnow embarks on a magical adventure that challenges everything she thought she knew... and who she thought she was. Thrilling and enchanting! A must read!"

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The Snow Dragon

Abi Elphinstone & Fiona Woodcock

Nominated by: Tami Wylie (@twylie68), Teacher

Tami says: "One of the best picture books I’ve read in a long time! Such a heartwarming message about never giving up on your dreams. Everyone, no matter how small, can have their fondest wish come true!"

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The Last Spell Breather

Julie Pike

Nominated by: Simon Fisher (@bookwormswales), Year 4 Teacher & Book Blogger at familybookworms.wales

 

Simon says: "I adore this story - beautifully written and constructed, with brilliant characters and creatures (especially the evil ones!), and the little details succeed in building an entirely convincing fantasy world. In a world where monsters exist, Rayne and her village are safe behind a magical barrier. Rayne is an apprentice spell breather, reluctantly following in her mam’s footprints. When mam is compelled to leave Penderin, Rayne damages the spell book with hideous consequences. She has to leave the safety of the village to find her mam and fix the mess. A captivating read for adults and children, this is fabulous and enchanting stuff from Julie Pike."

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The Lost Tide Warriors

Catherine Doyle

Nominated by:  Laura Crowther, Year 3 Teacher

Laura says: "I couldn't wait for this book to be released and I wasn't disappointed. Exciting, emotional, dramatic: everything great children's books should be. It was a perfect summer read and I eagerly await book 3."

Lenny's Book of Everything

Karen Foxlee

Nominated by:  Jacqueline Harris, (@phonicsandbooks), Education Consultant

 

Jacqueline says: "This is a simply marvellous book; beautifully written and crammed with detail and richness. Lenny Spink is Davey’s big sister and she narrates his story and her own. Davey is a giant, he won’t stop growing and by the age of six is as tall as an adult. They are close siblings;their world revolves around life with their single mother and a kindly neighbour in 1970s America. The characters are all beautifully drawn and the emotion laid bare. The detail of the story is all the more remarkable because Karen Foxlee is Australian. This book is both heart-breaking and wonderful."

The Star-Spun Web

Sinead O'Hart

Nominated by: Tracey Beck (@TraceyAnneBeck), University Administrator & Book Reviewer 

Tracey says: "Bringing together a female lead character, an adventure spanning different dimensions, a World War 2 theme and a pet spider - what's not to love?!"

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The Comet and The Thief

Ruth Morgan

Nominated by: Simon Fisher (@bookwormswales), Year 4 Teacher & Book Blogger at familybookworms.wales

 

Simon says: "Independent publisher Gomer delivered The Comet and The Thief in September and despite it's small label this book has big ideas. Best suited to upper KS2, Ruth Morgan has written a virtuoso historical fantasy thriller - edge of your seat stuff with superbly sophisticated storytelling. Kit is the eponymous Georgian thief who finds a magical medieval book connecting him to the inhabitants of a cursed village 300 years in the past. Evil Lord Colwich is also after the book, and a tense chase ensues. It’s a fantastic adventure, vividly imagined, totally compelling and fully deserving of a wider audience. Perfect for fans of Julie Pike, Frances Hardinge and Kiran Millwood-Hargrave."

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Isadora Moon Has a Sleepover

Harriet Muncaster

Nominated by: Florence (age 6), resident bookworm ar BooksForTopics HQ

 

Florence says: "I like Isadora Moon because I like that she is half fairy and half vampire and that is very unusual. My favourite book of the series is the sleepover one, because I like how you can tell Isadora and her friend have so much fun together and it makes me feel like I'm having fun with them."

A Pinch of Magic

Michelle Harrison

Nominated by: Anna Tomlinson (@scoutfinch_75), Teaching Assistant/School Librarian

Anna  says: "I loved every moment of this adventure. Michelle Harrison gives us intrigue and mystery, a terrifying ancient curse, determined and defiant sisters, three magic objects, sinister villains, a young boy just trying to survive, a strong-willed grandmother wanting nothing more than to protect her family and Sorsha Spellthorn, wronged and hellbent on revenge. All these elements combine to create an enchanting story that weaves it's magic and leaves you spellbound." 

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Seven Ghosts

Chris Priestley

Nominated by: Roy (@royjamesmoss), Primary Librarian

Roy  says: "With just the right amount of horror to send the chills up a child’s (and adult’s) spine, Seven Ghosts delivers a wonderful tale that will hook readers of varying levels. A great class read, or under-the-covers-by-torch-light tale... if you’re brave enough!"

Wildspark

Vashti Hardy

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics

 

Alison says: "I just loved being immersed in Wildspark, with its imaginary worlds that are as inventive as they are thrilling. Prue Haywood is an inventive and curious farm girl who gains entry into the exciting world of Medlock and its secretive guild of inventors - but only because she poses as her brother, who really passed away not too long before. With the brightest minds developing ways of placing human spirits into animal-like machines, the work of the guild is completely alluring for budding young inventors like Prue. But there's more going on at the guild than  first meets the eye. Ambitious in length and vocabulary, this is an exciting and original book suitable for upper KS2 and lower KS3."

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Beverly, Right Here

Kate DiCamillo

Nomination by: Jenny Jones (@jennysarahjones), Head Prep School Librarian

 

Jenny  says: "DiCamillo's nuanced, complicated characters will live with you long after you have closed the book. Her prose is simple, sparse, poetic and beautiful. Highly recommended for your Year 6 readers who want something more emotionally challenging."

Can You See Me?

Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott

Nominated by: Hilary MacMeekin  (@HLMacMeekin), Headteacher; Kate Gieler (@Glebelove2read), Teacher and school librarian; Gail Edwards Cole (@gedwardscole), Y6 teacher

 

Hilary says: "As a mum and an educator I think every teacher should read this book, I have recommended it endlessly. It is a beautifully written journey through the transition to secondary for a child with ASC. There were so many parts that resonate with me as a parent or remind me of children I have worked with, reading the other perspective is an insightful opportunity to develop empathy and understanding. I cried many times, but was also filled with joy, hope and warmth. An absolute gem of a book."

Kate says: "My 2019 top read is the one I read cover to cover twice and left me lost for words: Can You See Me? by Rebecca Westcott and 11 year old Libby Scott. Tally’s story taught me so much about autism through a child’s eyes and further highlighted why it’s so important for adults to read children’s books. I think it’s rare to find a story that speaks to children and adults equally, but Can You See Me? succeeds in such a way that it offers adults a window into an autistic child’s mind and children an opportunity to see themselves, their friends, or their siblings."

Gail says: "A much-needed insight into the life of an autistic young person which covers family, friendship, identity and transition so well. Very honest - both funny and heartbreaking. An essential read for both children and adults."

 

 

It's A No Money Day

Kate Milner

Nomination by: Jenny Jones (@jennysarahjones), Head Prep School Librarian

 

Jenny  says: "A compassionate, subtle picture book about a young girl and her mother on a day when they visit a food bank. A powerful, sensitive & very important book for everyone to read."

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Grumpycorn

Sarah McIntyre

Nominated by: : Melissa Jordan (@melissacreate15), Book seller and Reading Advocate

Melissa says: " A male unicorn with a writing hut by the sea. He is having trouble thinking of a story. His friends want to help, but will he let them? Fantastic colourful illustration with plenty of detail to spot. Great for frustrated writers of all ages!"

 

Bloom

Nicola Skinner and Flavia Sorrentino

Nominated by: Alison (@booksfortopics), Founder of BooksForTopics

 

Alison says: "Hilarious and truly original, Bloom is the story of a girl called Sorrel who finds a packet of surprising seeds that cause plants to grow from people's heads.​ Before she knows it, the power of the seeds have taken root not just in Sorrel’s life but also in her whole community. 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. A stand-out story full of humour and heart."

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The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

Jaclyn Moriarty

Nominated by: Danielle Breachwood (@faeryartemis), Ex-teacher and now children's book blogger at lilyandthefae.wordpress.com & home educator

 

Danielle says: "This is a fantastical quest-meets-coming-of-age story. Bronte begins the story as a quiet and mild-mannered young girl but as her quest unravels, she finds challenges and discovers that she has grit and gumption, determination and an unshakeable sense of what’s the right thing to do. As challenges, tumbles, scrapes and puzzles unfurl in her path she finds she has the power deep inside herself not only to persevere and to succeed but to believe in herself too."

Diver’s Daughter

Patrice Lawrence

Nominated by: Karen Morris (@KLovesbooks), Senior Lecturer Primary ITE

 

Karen says: "I enjoyed this book immensely. Patrice Lawrence draws us into the life of Eve and her mother as they navigate life during the perilous period in the reign of the last Tudor Queen. Her research is excellent and conveys an authentic feel of life for a young girl travelling between Southwark and Southampton on a dangerous mission particularly as her mother is an African diver. The story is accessible, engaging and beautifully told."

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