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Best Books This Month – October 2022

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Best children's books in October 2022

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 October 2022.

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Jean Menzies
 & Katie Ponder

Egyptian Myths is a brilliant book to accompany KS2 history topics about Ancient Civilisations. It looks stunning; with its black cover and golden spine, and is packed with stories from Egypt, which have been retold in a way accessible to younger readers. The stories have their fair share of mythical creatures, terrible consequences and gruesome endings, all of which are completely captivating to read and perfect to share aloud.

The illustrations are rich in colour and pay homage to hieroglyphics in their style, but are slightly cartoonesque too, enabling children to grasp some of the quite complicated ancient plot lines and characters. Author Jean Menzies has organised the stories into categories, which also helps the target audience to navigate the book. There are chapters devoted to gods, pharaohs and even one on ‘mortals’.

The final chapter is most valuable, as it gives the reader a series of double-page infographics which detail some of the historical content; such as mummification and ‘the journey of the dead’. These are brightly coloured and far more appealing than most glossaries. This section contains so many pieces of additional information that can certainly be applied to writing activities in the classroom. The final spread is a list of Egyptian vocabulary with anglicised pronunciation underneath, which will be invaluable to most teachers when they start this topic.

Cressida Cowell
Chapter book

An action-packed adventure that invites readers to imagine what might happen if the fantasy lands they dream up became real. Fans of Cressida Cowell’s previous series (How to Train Your Dragon and Wizards of Once) will delight in meeting new characters and joining them on their magical new journey in search of truth, love and family.

K2 and Izzabird come from a family of magical people: their mum and aunties are makers of potions and enchanted inventions. When their mum marries the Headteacher of the children’s school and they find themselves with a step-brother and step-sister, they are less than happy with their new family dynamic. That is, until they are terrorised by robotic monsters from other lands on their way to school and their adventure begins.

The children must now stick together and work out a plan between them to rescue their baby sister, who is abducted by a new foe and taken to another land. The children must also find their mum and aunties, who have set off on a secret mission of their own. The only way to enter these distant, other-worldly places is for K2 to draw a special map and mark a point with an X, which becomes a portal – the which way to anywhere. Through their adventure, the children find strength in each other and recognise that each have different but equally useful talents.

With many twists and turns, this book is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Ultimately this is a story of how everyone can be a hero in their own right and and how people, no matter how different, can collaborate together to make magical things happen.

Matt Goodfellow
 & Oriol Vidal

The strapline under the title of Matt Goodfellow’s collection of poetry really sets the tone for this beautifully considered collection. It states ‘Poems to Lose Yourself In’ and it is clear that each poem is designed carefully to let the reader settle back and immerse themselves in the overwhelming power and comfort, ebbs and flows, calm and chaos of verse.

The collection would offer value to primary classrooms in a multitude of ways. There are poems which are just so pertinent and thought-provoking that it would be a shame not to have them linger with a class, possibly at the start or end of a challenging day (a personal favourite is ‘I am Here’). For KS2 classes, there is the range of genres to enable class teachers to inspire poetry of all types and so can be used as the stimulus for whole class writing. As a PSHE resource, Matt Goodfellow has considered some huge issues, such as the transition to high school (Transition), Domestic Violence (Jake) and the death of a beloved pet (Dig Sid, Dig) and some which may overwhelm the reader more than the listener- I dare you not to be moved by ‘Adequate Life’.

This is a wonderful anthology and, for a mature Upper KS2 group, a perfect addition to a class bookshelf or teacher resource collection.

Reviewer: Claire C

Carlie Sorosiak
Chapter book

Clementine is a mouse, born in a laboratory with her brothers and sisters, genetically altered to be super intelligent. One day, one of the researchers ‘rescues’ her and one of her brothers, leaving them to be looked after by an elderly man and his visiting grandson. The two humans have to think of a plan to keep the mice safe and prevent the lab from taking them back.

Written as letters Clementine sends in her head to the laboratory chimpanzee Rosie, the story gathers pace as Clementine realises what her fate might be if she is returned to the lab.

This is a wonderful book; I could not put it down. It is both an exciting adventure and a plea not to use animals in experiments. With echoes of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Robert C O’Brien) and even the Queen’s Gambit (Walter Tevis), the reader follows Clementine with bated breath and learns that while some humans are very bad indeed, others can be kind and good. This is a heart-warming story, filled with humour and love.

SF Said
 & Dave McKean
Chapter book

If you’ve spent any time on edutwitter or children’s booktok lately, you might know that SF Said’s Tyger has been one of the most hotly anticipated titles due this Autumn. It’s a fine thing when a children’s book generates a huge buzz in the months building up to publication, and this one certainly did – after all, with a well-loved author, an early drop of signed proofs, a beautiful cover by Dave McKean and just enough intrigue in the blurb to make you sit up and wonder, how could it not? Even better is when a book like this manages to really live up to the excitement generated. Did this one deliver? We are pleased to say it did.

This is an atmospheric story set in an alternative near-future London. The city is a dangerous place for many, dominated by strict social rules, a system of racial superiority and un-abolished slavery that developed from colonialism. In this London, Adam and Zadie are both children who have been made to feel like outsiders. The story centres on their discovery of a mythical creature – a Tyger who is hiding after being hunted and wounded. Adam helps the injured Tyger and a friendship blossoms. Soon, the Tyger teaches Adam a renewed philosophical outlook on life and helps him to tap into his hidden gifts. The children set about to protect and save the Tyger, and as fear and oppression rage in the city of London, the children’s courage to save the Tyger makes wider ripples than they could ever imagine.

There’s something timelessly alluring about tigers in children’s books, especially those that have time to sit down and talk with you. This Tyger has a mystical quality that will no doubt entice and intrigue young readers anew. Adult readers familiar with the work of William Blake won’t fail to notice the allusions to Blakean mythology that filter through text, illustrations and that striking cover. The Tyger in SF Said’s book offers Adam and Zadie something of the mystical and spiritual encounter that Blake hoped to offer his readers; a temporary liberation from the ‘mind-forged manacles’ of the material world and a hope-filled reminder of the power of human spirit.

SF Said’s fanbase will be thrilled to read this new adventure – laced with danger, edged with fantasy and packed to the core with thinking and discussion points that link to very real issues in society. Despite the serious themes explored, Said writes with optimism and hope, showing how joy and light can always be found in the darkest of times. This story will no doubt find a home in the hearts of Upper KS2 readers who love mythology, quest stories and an encouter with something deeper.

Reviewer: Alison Leach

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