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Best Books This Month – February 2024

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best books february 2024

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 February 2024.

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Siobhan McDermott
Chapter book

Fast-paced, full of action and fun, Paper Dragons takes you on a journey which, while entirely fantasy fiction, delves into Chinese culture, folklore and cuisine.

Filled with adventurous twists and turns, the plot develops breathing flesh into each character seamlessly, so you gain empathy for even the most unlikeable characters and will Zhi Ging on despite all the barriers in her way. The heroine is adopted and remains on the fringe of her community for being “different”, and the reader roots for Zhi Ging to triumph against adversity throughout. The story-telling shines out above all else and the final plot twist has left me eager to read on.

A lovely addition at the end is the Author’s note, explaining some of the “Irish-tinged Cantonese” names used in the book and is indicative of the thought put into every detail of the story.

An incredibly accomplished debut novel – hopefully the first of many to come!

Emily Ann Davison
 & Momoko Abe

If you are looking for a story to inspire friendship in your classroom, then The Blue Umbrella is a perfect choice.

The story starts with a litle girl who finds a blue umbrella on her doorstep. She takes it with her as she goes for a walk with her mum. As she strolls, the rain begins and she starts to offer shelter to the people in her community. The umbrella grows and grows to fit more and more people under it, with surprising results.

This is such a heartwarming tale which is easy for younger children to understand. It offers lots of opportunities to talk about being a good friend and what it means to be part of a community. It can sometimes be tricky to understand how children can make a difference but the umbrella device perfectly is used to show that small actions can make a big difference and start as a catalyst for change.

The Blue Umbrella is a wonderful story to enjoy in its own right but would be a fantastic story to share as part of citizenship lessons or when focusing on community events or friendship.

Laura Ellen Anderson
Chapter book

I’m a really big fan of Rainbow Grey so I was really excited to review this first book in the new series from Laura Ellen Anderson. It certainly didn’t disappoint!

Marnie is a very young moth, who finally having gained her wings, is off to Mini Beast Academy to learn what being a mini beast is all about. She has always dreamed of visiting the moon like her hero Lunora Wingheart, who was lost on a mission to the moon. When she arrives at school, Marnie soon begins having visions and hearing Lunora calling for help. However, whenever she asks about the moon, the adults go quiet. Marnie and her friends Floyd and Star discover that their teacher Mr. Atlas has a devious plot to destroy the moon. Can they stop him in time and save Lunora?

I enjoyed how the characters lived in a world that was just like ours, except hidden from human sight. Marnie, Floyd and Star are brilliant characters. They have completely different personalities, but they become the best of friends. This is a fabulous book for ages 6-9 for teaching friendship, determination and resilience. The world building and descriptive language are exceptional, making it easy to picture the book in your mind; perfect for young readers. I think this is going to be a fantastic series for engaging young readers exploring short, illustrated chapter books.

Adam Stower
Chapter book

Murray is a cat that loves his peace and quiet but sadly, living with a rather incompetent wizard means that his life is anything but. On occasion, a happy accidental spell provides something of value and for Murray this arrives in the form of a magic cat-flap and Bun, a bun turned bunny. What Bun lacks in vocabulary, he makes up for in enthusiasm, leading Murray on to adventure, whether he likes it or not.

Adam Stower is best known and loved for his illustrations (most notably for David Walliams), but a smidge of research reveals that he is also a prolific writer and, if this book is anything to go by, this latest series is set to put his writing on a par with his illustration.

The witty dialogue between our unlikely friends leads to a book that will appeal right from Year 2 to Year 6. In fact, my copy was in hot demand with my Year 6 class, accompanied by snorts of laughter and loud exclamations of “Bun!”. Granted it isn’t a text to challenge UKS2 (making it accessible to much younger age groups) but they loved the humour and for more reluctant readers, this could be just the sort of book that they will return to and enjoy time and again.

Alex Bell
 & Tim McDonagh
Chapter book

The Glorious Race of Magical Beasts is an absolutely spellbinding read for anyone who loves adventure, magic and unlikely friendships.

The story begins with Eli, a book-loving introvert, who works at the Royal Library. As the story unveils, we learn that our hero, the unassuming underdog, has more to the eye than it seems.

There is not one page in this story that isn’t filled with the most spectacular imagination! For a start, you can’t help but fall in love with Eli’s sidekick, a moon turtle called Humphrey, who loves nothing more than a poem and an easy life. Needless to say, they embark on an adventure which couldn’t be further from the ordinary. Before they died, Eli’s parents were famous for entering and winning The Race of Magical Beasts, which is renowned for its danger and cunning contestants. After a recent discovery, Eli is left with no choice but to risk everything to enter the race himself and win the iconic prize. Will he be able to show people that a ‘bookish boy with a briefcase can achieve remarkable things’?

Bell’s imagination and incredible story-telling will leave any reader in awe. From fictional characters who have been transported from the pages of books to ships with pulsating tentacles, there is plenty to keep the reader turning pages. I loved every word on every single page, particularly the heart-warming friendships built throughout! This story is a triumph in every sense.

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Support independent bookshops

Many thanks to our review panel members Jane Evans, Tami Wylie, Claire Coates & Claire Sleath for reviewing this month’s selection.



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