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Best Books This Month – May 2024

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best childrens books may 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 May 2024.

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Ash Bond
Chapter book

The perfect book for lovers of Percy Jackson and Who Let the Gods Out?

Peregrine is a 12-year-old girl who ends up on an action-packed fantasy adventure in the Under-Underground, alongside characters from mythology.

This book has a huge dose of adventure and mystery throughout. As a narrative with multiple perspectives, it would be best suited to confident UKS2 children and some understanding of Greek mythology would probably be beneficial (but not necessary).

Peregrine Quinn makes a great main character: the perfect blend of confidence, bravery and loyalty wrapped up in a 12-year-old girl. The side characters are also great fun and add a healthy dose of comedy to the story, as well as adding their journeys for children to follow through the story.

Helen Docherty
 & David Roberts
Chapter book

Inspired by the words of Jo Cox, ‘We have more in common than that which divides us,’ and dedicated to ‘every child who has ever had to leave their home behind,’ this book is a showcase of thoughtfulness, empathy, kindness and inclusion.

Firstly, the vibrant palette of neon pinks and oranges stands out, drawing your eye to the cast of inclusive characters shown throughout, many subverting stereotypes of gender, race, and disability – showing wide-ranging positive representation.

The premise of the story is that somewhere in the world is someone who has the same likes, dislikes, sense of humour and interests as you and the reader is invited to imagine this with the dual illustrations showing two very different characters, sharing a characteristic. Once the connection has been made, the reader is invited to think about how they could support and care for this person if they needed shelter or friendship after having to leave their home, encouraging giving, sharing, listening and talking as ways to make them feel welcome.

Tom Percival
Chapter book

In this collaboration with the National Literacy Trust, Tom Percival has written a book that should be in every school library in the country. For Will, things just keep going wrong. Bullied for having cheap shoes, misunderstood by his teachers, and struggling to come to terms with the bleak and hungry life he leads after his dad lost his job, life seems to be pushing him down a path of self-destruction.

The love of his family, the persistence of his friends, and a freak encounter with nature keep filling him with just enough hope to keep doing the next right thing. Will is living on the poverty line, and this will be a sensitive issue for some children. Life for Will is hard, but he learns that he is still powerful, and in a position to make choices about his future and the path he wants to take.

The Wrong Shoes is a story that will increase empathy in children whose lives are easier than Will’s, and empower those who relate to him. Suitable for Upper KS2 and beyond.

Catherine Bruton
Chapter book

After the death of his mother, Will is sent to live with his Uncle (whom he barely knows) in the wild, beautiful landscape of the Lake District. They discover an osprey nest as he explores the hills with his new friend Omar. Will immediately feels a connection with the smallest chick that they name Whitetip. During a storm, Will finds Whitetip knocked from the nest and rescues her, breaking the law by handling a protected species and moving the injured bird to the barn by his house. With the help of Omar, Will looks after Whitetip in secret, feeding her and determined to save her. However, when her condition deteriorates, he needs to learn to reach out and trust in others too.

As the plot unfolds, we learn more about Will, his mother’s mental ill health, as well as the tragic accident that ended her life. You feel Will containing his grief throughout the story, his emotions and complex thoughts inextricably linked to the bird and its own survival, as if saving Whitetip will somehow atone for his mother’s death.

There are strong links to empathy, PSHE and mental health within the story and depending on the context, this story could be used as a powerful window or mirror to support children in understanding their own lives and the experiences of others.

Themes of taking flight and healing run through the narrative. Most suitable for Upper KS2 and beyond, there are some very emotive and raw scenes, as both Will and Omar begin to acknowledge their trauma, heal, and find the strength to move forward in their grief, with an ultimately hopeful ending for both boys.

Matty Long
Chapter book

A fun and easy-to-read book, and a good addition to the Year 2 book corner for enhancement when looking at fantasy creatures or adventure narratives.

Matty Long – known for Super Happy Magic Forest – has an iconic illustrative style that appeals to younger children. The main character Croaky Hopper is funny and the storyline moves quickly. Croaky is different to other frogs and not content to stay home when his dreams of wild adventures are just a leap away – especially when he signs up for Woggle Scouts and ends up on an expedition to find the legendary Sasquatch.

We love the vibrant character of Croaky and his energetic personality will resonate with readers in the age group of the intended audience – his thirst for adventure, his frustration at not being able to bound away and recklessly follow his dreams and his impulsive spirit that causes him to sometimes leap before he thinks. This story sells the benefit of being part of a club or team, and shows how different personalities can achieve their goals in different ways through working together.

The book feels like a chapter book, but the printed format is familiar to those who like picturebooks or early graphic novels. Children enjoy the full-colour illustrations and ease of reading. The text is large and the sentence structure is easy enough for children to understand and read in a short session.

Boundingly great fun for 5-8 year olds and with the promise of more in the series on the way, this is a winner of an early chapter book for newly independent readers.

Support independent bookshops

Many thanks to our review panel members Christine Ivory, Esther Brown, Fliss Riste and Suzanne Shires for reviewing this month’s selection.

 

 

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