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Best Books This Month – February 2018

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Best Books This Month - February 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 February 2018…

Kevin Tsang & Katie Tsang
 & Nathan Reed
Chapter book
The brilliantly funny and first book in the SAM WU series, starring the bravest scaredy-cat in the world. Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except he is). When a trip to the Space Museum goes terrifyingly wrong, Sam begins a mission to prove to the school bully, and all of his friends, that he is a fearless space adventurer. A truly laugh-out-loud, voice-led and madcap story of ghost hunting, snakes and mischievous pet cats called Butterbutt.
Matt Carr

Created in Matt Carr’s signature comic-book style with a palette of bold primary colours, this entertaining story follows Spyder, a secret agent arachnid whose codename is 008. Spyder is sent on a highly important mission to save one boy’s birthday cake from the destructive intentions of an uninvited Bluebottle.

The text is full of puns but the humour is perfectly pitched for adults and children alike. It was wonderful to see that the secret agent was female (because why wouldn’t she be?). There are oodles of extra details to spot, such as the various images on the screen of the agent’s spy gadget and the spider webpage at the end of the book.
 This delightful, cool and engaging picture book is a favourite at BooksForTopics HQ and is a real winner in the Key Stage 1 classroom.
Pádraig Kenny
Chapter book

This imaginative debut novel is set in a world in which children are either ‘propers’ – that is, real children – or robotic ‘mechanicals’ and it follows the story of a boy called Christopher who assists the curious mechanical engineer Mr Absalom. When an unfortunate accident occurs under Mr Absalom’s care, Christopher is forced to embark upon an adventure that will lead him to discover his true identity, with the help of a group of trustworthy friends both mechanical and proper. The plot is full of twists and turns and we love how the unusual fantasy world that Pádraig Kenny has created is realised in an exceptional way that is at once convincing and beguiling. The story raises some really thought-provoking questions about artificial intelligence and its ethics, although the very relatable themes of humanity and belonging lie at the heart of it. We can’t recommend this enjoyable and interesting story highly enough for upper KS2.

This is the book I wish I’d written. There is just something about it that grabbed me from the first page. It is the story of Christopher, a real boy, and his friends who are all mechanicals and it explores the nature of friendship and being human. It is a very exciting story with richly drawn characters, set in an alternative 1930s. There are echoes of the Wizard of Oz and I think, if there is justice in the world, that it should be a classic and must read for ages nine and up.

Jamia Wilson
 & Andrea Pippins

This is an eye-catching anthology that celebrates the inspirational achievements of fifty-two trailblazing black women and men, including artists, sports legends, scientists and activists among many others. In the introduction, the author notes that “all children deserve to see themselves represented positively in stories. That’s why we’re highlighting the talent and contributions of black changemakers from around the world—for readers of all backgrounds to discover.”

Each page contains a short biography of an influential figure, perfectly accessible in language and length to suit primary-aged children. The text on each page is set against a brightly-coloured background containing a dynamic portrait of the featured individual, accentuated by colours and patterns – such as crowns and stars – that add to the celebratory feel of the book.

Short story collection

Make More Noise!’ is a book created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first women in the UK gaining the right to vote. ‘Make More Noise!’ is a collection of short stories for KS2, written by well-known female authors, including Emma Carroll, M.G. Leonard and Kiran Millwood Hargrave among other celebrated writers. Each story features the strong voice of a real or fictitious female character and has been specially written to celebrate the equality that the Votes For Women campaign represented.

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