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Best Books This Month – August 2018

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Best Books This Month - August 2018

It’s easy to feel lost in the flood of so many new children’s books available. Each month, we pick five of our recently published favourites.

Check out our Review Panel’s top picks for you to read in August 2018…

Emma Carroll
Chapter book

This story is set in 1922 around the time that Howard Carter famously excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb. Thirteen-year-old Lilian Kaye enjoys following the newspaper reports about Howard Carter’s progress. A mystery parcel raises lots of questions and soon after Lilian has an opportunity to join a voyage to Egypt. What follows is an exciting adventure that will take Lilian to the very heart of Howard Carter’s fascinating discoveries. Filled with historical intrigue and intelligently drawn characters, this is highly recommended for upper Ks2.

Gabrielle Kent
 & Rex Crowle
Chapter book

Knights and Bikes is based on a computer game of the same name. It tells the story of two girls who undertake an exciting adventure on the island of Penfurzy. Demelza expects nothing exciting to happen on the island, until she meets a like-minded friend called Nessa and the pair dream up an adventure together. The quirky story is fast-paced and filled with action and the right amount of humour.

Charlotte Guillain
 & Yuval Zommer
Chapter book

Some books are made for sharing and ‘The Skies Above My Eyes’ is a wonderful example of one. The book folds out into a beautifully-illustrated 2.5m long double-sided journey up through the layers of the atmosphere, with small chunks of informative text along the way.

Starting on ground level with a girl standing on a busy street, readers can follow her gaze upwards to pass towering skyscrapers, various aircraft and space vehicles and finally to planets and stars. On the reverse, the girl lays on the grass at the foot of a mountain, looking up towards birds, paragliders, through weather systems, meteoroids and comets.

Much like its predecessor ‘The Street Beneath My Feet’, this book is likely to be a huge hit in the classroom as children will love gathering around the fully folded-out pages to pore over the many details and facts hidden around the different layers of the atmosphere. The text helps to direct the reader to tiny details that they may not have already spotted in the illustrations. Reading the information from the bottom to the top on one side and then the opposite way round on the reverse feels like jumping into a spacecraft and blasting off on a trip to the ends of the solar system and then descending back to the Earth’s surface.

Yuval Zommer’s bold and bright illustrations are hugely appealing and joyful as he masterfully captures the variation of hues and textures that make the skies above us such a visual delight. The thick paper of the book’s concertina pages feels durable and ready to withstand being opened out and refolded many times.

This is a book that young readers will love to treasure and share and one that will hold a strong appeal across the whole primary age range.

Nadine Kaadan

Tomorrow is a poignant picture book offering a window into what life might be like for children living under conditions of war, portraying the all-consuming darkness that war can bring into family life. A young boy called Yazan lives in a war-torn Syrian town. Yazan senses everything changing around him as he is no longer allowed to visit the park or to enjoy playing outside in the street.

Even Yazan’s parents are changing. His mother watches the news with the volume turned up and his father fearfully makes phone calls before daring to leave the house. Fear and anxiety invade the household like a dark cloud filling each room with gloom and despair.

Yazan is bored of being stuck inside and decides to cycle to the park by himself. Venturing outside, he sees the once lively streets are now desolate and crumbling. To Yazan’s relief, his father appears in time to take him back home and the family work together to create a new way to bring some colour and joy back to the house despite the troublesome circumstances outside.

Tomorrow is an important and accomplished picture book that evokes empathy and opens avenues to start discussing real experiences for other children around the world. The use of pattern and colour is wonderfully striking, with splashes of colour amid the gloom and a joyful final page that leaves the story with hints of hope.

Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Chapter book

Suitable for upper primary, this charming story retains plenty of suspense until the very end. It has a compelling narrator, a mysterious stranger and an impossible mission. It also has one of the best twists of any children’s books I know of. The Middle Ages are evoked in so many ways: language, settings and characters – but never do these things become a barrier to a modern reader connecting with the story. Just fabulous!

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