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Best Books This Month – August 2023

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best childrens books august 2023

It’s easy to feel lost in the flood of so many new children’s books available. Each month, our review panel reads scores of new books and we highlight five of our recently published favourites.

Check out our Review Panel’s top books for you to read in August 2023.

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Judith Eagle
Chapter book

Caro lives with her two mothers in 1950s London, but when one disappears whilst on a global whistling tour and the other has to leave to care for a sick relative, Caro is left to stay with the intimidating Gam (Great Aunt Mary). However, whilst packing to go to Gam’s house, Caro finds a small, beautifully painted picture of a small bird, hidden away in a pocket of her mum’s old suitcase. A painting which, unknown to Caro, is being hunted by a gang of dangerous art thieves – The Snakes – who will stop at nothing to get it. With the help of an old friend, Horace, a new friend, Albie, and her faithful companion, His Nibs, can Caro solve the mystery of the painting, make sense of the secrets in her family’s past (Where did the painting come from, why does Gam hate rabbits so much and exactly who is the homeless man who keeps helping her?) and be reunited with her mothers?

An exciting adventure in post-war London with layers of mystery to be solved and a cast of well-written, complex and likeable characters. Beautifully written and will appeal to adventure- and mystery lovers.

Catherine Rayner

‘Victor the Wolf with Worries’ is a charming and thoughtful book. Beautifully presented, with exquisite artwork by the author, it is a feline take on ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ and will, I’m sure, become a classic to draw upon both in the Early Years and KS1 classrooms, and at bedtime. Victor has three all-encompassing worries which he feels are insurmountable, until his friend Pablo comes to the rescue.

Pablo’s solutions are simple and magically effective and many a teacher and parent up and down the country will find themselves incorporating these strategies into practice.

The wolves in the story, despite being idealised as brave, big and fierce, look rather like shy, dignified puppies! Children will delight in naming them and considering the real characteristics that lie behind their grey coats and pointed noses! The conclusion of the story – that ‘everybody worries!’ and that ‘worries come and go’ –  is a delightful drawing together of the narrative, leaving even the shyest little one feeling safe and comforted.

Simon Chapman
 & Qu Lan

“Rivers”, written by Simon Chapman and illustrated by Qu Lan, is a geographical masterpiece and educational gem that breathes life into the vast, diverse world of our planet’s waterways.

The book has a superb balance between text and image, a testament to Chapman’s writing and Lan’s exceptional artistic skill. It presents geographical facts and a vivid story unfolding across every continent, showcasing rivers in all their glory. Chapman’s keen sense of adventure and passion for exploration are evident throughout the book. His detailed yet accessible narration of the journey of a river is expertly supplemented with an ecologist’s viewpoint, thanks to the contributions of river ecologist François Edwards. This combination of adventure, exploration, and factual accuracy will ignite curiosity in students about the natural world and engage pupils in geography, ecology, and history.

The six rivers featured – the Amazon, Nile, Mississippi, Rhine, Ganges, and Murray – are depicted with intricate detail on the beautifully executed fold-out pages, allowing for a more immersive reading experience. Equally interesting is the focus on the human relationship with waterways. This perspective offers a unique opportunity for educators to discuss geography and wildlife and delve into the history of the civilisations that have thrived along the rivers, spanning various curriculum subjects. The beautifully crafted illustrations by Qu Lan bring an enchanting visual element to the book, with intricate details and vibrant colours that capture the essence of each river and the wildlife it supports. The images can prompt discussions, help in comprehension, and offer a multi-sensory experience that caters to various learning styles in the classroom.

This book will be valuable to every educator, parent, and professional library in the children’s education sector. It is an educational gem that is a must-have tool to inspire a love for geography, history, and the environment.

Linda Newbery
 & Katie Rewse

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it Away” is a delightful, innovative book for early years education in the 21st century. It is a wonderful resource to introduce concepts of recycling and sustainability to children. It’s a story that invites young readers to think differently about the ‘stuff’ around them, fostering an early respect for the environment and teaching the value of resourcefulness and creativity.

Linda Newbury’s narrative skillfully introduces young readers to the Dragonflies Nursery, a group of industrious children who brilliantly transform what most consider ‘trash’ into treasured items. The book’s lively prose is peppered with imaginative ideas, showcasing how everyday waste items can be repurposed and brought to life again. It’s a testament to the power of creativity and problem-solving, underpinned by a clear, essential message about recycling and reducing waste.

Katie Rewse’s vibrant illustrations perfectly complement Newbury’s text, adding depth, character, and life to each page. Each illustration is eye-catching and detailed, offering opportunities to explore and engage with the transformation of pine cones into decorative owls or turning old curtains into amazing costumes.

“Rubbish? Don’t Throw it away” is a must-have addition to any preschool library or classroom. Parents and carers, too, will find the book enjoyable and inspirational. It’s not just about telling children what they can do with their ‘rubbish’ – it’s about sparking their imagination to develop their own ideas. It’s about laying the foundation for a generation that sees not waste but potential, reinforcing that every object, no matter how seemingly trivial, has potential value if approached with creativity and ingenuity.

Lorraine Gregory
 & Jo Lindley
Chapter book

Danny’s grandad has a curious knack for finding list things. Nothing too unusual perhaps, until Danny discovers that Grandad has a very important, top-secret job working in the Interdimensional Lost Property Office (IDLPO). When Grandad falls ill, Danny is given the task of looking after the IDLPO. Entering the Office via a locker, Danny and his side-kick Modge are transported to new worlds and thrown into adventures beyond their imagination.

This is a book full of gags and mildly disgusting humour which children will love. As the boys race through the universe in their quest to return a fascinating array of alien creatures, they realise that they have the enthusiasm, determination and desire to do their best but that they lack the necessary knowledge of the ‘technical bits’. The boys have to resort to asking Danny’s bookish cousin, Inaaya, to join the mission. The trio discover a secret plot designed to bring down the whole universe. Woven into the narrative are engaging characters – Mrs Arbuckle, the lost property office supervisor who also happens to be a purple squid, brother and sister Kaspar and Kaylar and the veterinarian, Dr Triffle Piffle- each with a vivid appearance and quirky cosmic character. The action in the book moves at a fast pace and although there is excitement and peril it is humorous and really engaging.

Lorraine Gregory never fails to please. Children who love narrative-driven action will enjoy this book and will be turning the pages to discover if Danny, Modge and Inaaya can successfully return the lost things to their rightful galactic homes. Readers will, I am sure, await the next book in the series.

Support independent bookshops

Many thanks to our review panel members Cath Delor, Jo Clarke, Caroline Waldron and Suzanne Booth for reviewing this month’s selection.

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