Item List

February 2022 
New Children's Books We Love

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 2022.

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Grandad Frank's Great Big Bucket List

Jenny Pearson & David O’Connell

Grandpa Frank’s Great Big Bucket List takes the reader on a journey of excitement, adventure, humour and discovery and leaves them understanding life just a little bit more.


Frank sets off to meet his grandpa with high expectations. What he finds is a very sad and lonely old man living in a nursing home who has no interest in establishing any kind of relationship. Not wanting to give up on his chance for happiness (and because Davenport men don’t quit), Frank comes up with the idea of a bucket list of activities to inject some joy back into Grandpa Frank’s life, secretly harbouring hopes of a grand family reunion somewhere along the line. Soon, Grandpa Frank finds himself participating in a whole array of activities most OAPs wouldn’t be expected to do. As they venture together through: hot air ballooning; parkour; synchronised swimming and monster truck driving, Grandpa Frank learns that maybe there are more opportunities for joy (and bruises) in life.


Despite the blossoming relationship with his grandfather, it seems that Frank’s dream of a family reunion will never happen. However, after the middle Frank steps a little further over the line than usual, it will take all of Frank Senior Senior and Frank Junior Junior’s newly-learned skills to save the day.


Alongside the humour in this story, there are many opportunities for the reader to see through societal stereotypes of older people and also begin to understand the impact of dementia.

Format: Chapter book

Recommended Age: 8+

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022

My Mum is a Lioness

Swapna Haddow & Dapo Adeola

My Mum is a Lioness is the second family-based playful picture book from award-winning author Swapna Haddow and illustrator Dapo Adeola. Filled with giggles and with the theme of family bonds at the heart, this is a roar-some choice for storytime with children aged 3-7 and a well-timed release with Mother's Day coming up next month.


The first book in the series - My Dad is a Grizzly Bear - won the 'Best Classroom Read Aloud' category for EYFS in our Books of the Year Awards. This new instalment matches the playfulness and fun of the first, with brightly coloured illustrations providing plenty of visual humour and a bouncy rhythm that makes it well-suited to being read aloud at storytime.


The mother in the story has all the qualities of a lioness - she pounces for cuddles, has the proudest roar and gives strong lioness hugs that make everything feel better. It's a joyful ode to the bond between mums and their children, tapping into both humour and sentimentality to make a feel-good story that is sure to raise plenty of smiles on Mother's Day and all year round.

Format: Picturebook

Recommended Age: 3+

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022

Spark

Mitch Johnson

I have enjoyed both of Mitch Johnson’s previous books, each of them being entirely different from each other and this one. This one is set in a dystopian future with a dose of climate change warning thrown in.


The adventure is both exciting and terrifying - in fact, the climate that they live in and the few remnants of humanity they encounter are equally frightening. It was such an exciting read that I read it in one sitting, unable to put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next.


Ash and Bronwyn are interesting characters because in some ways the reader never knows very much about them; you only know about how they behave and how they act, little else. Up until the crisis point, their worlds have been very narrow, consisting of only their respective villages - so it is a very big deal for them to leave and travel elsewhere. The stories of the past are like myths, and they never really know how the actions of their ancestors have impacted their lives - but the reader does.


Mitch Johnson intended the book to be a reminder to his readers to not mess things up for future generations and in that I think he succeeds. Another excellent book from Mitch Johnson.

Format: Chapter book

Recommended Age: 9+

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Dr Dominic Walliman & Ben Newman

Professor Astro Cat is much loved in schools for non-fiction guides relating to space, atoms, human bodies and deep-sea voyages. Frontiers of Space was first published in 2013 as the starting book in the series and is now back with a new edition featuring eight new spreads and updated details about how rockets work, recent missions to Mars, space junk, black holes, and many more new insights into the ever-developing science of space and the outer reaches of the universe. There's something new to learn about on every page.


Fictional guide Professor Astro Cat walks his readers through some of the key questions that children might have about the universe, and many more that they've probably never even thought about before. Where does our sun go at night? What are stars made of? If the Earth was a cherry tomato, what size would the other planets be (hint: Mars would be a pea and Jupiter a watermelon).


 This is a beautifully designed non-fiction book with illustrations by an artist whose use of bold shapes and retro colours draws readers right in to enjoy soaking up the information. Each page has plenty of varied and interesting information to read and - coupled with the quality, durable feel of the book - the purchase of this text is a good investment as readers are likely to get a lot out of each sitting and still be left with plenty to come back and discover.


If you have yet to fall in love with the Astro Cat series, this is a great place to start.

Format: Illustrated non-fiction

Recommended Age: 7+

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022

Like a Charm

Elle McNicoll

We're big fans of Elle McNicoll's books here at BooksForTopics HQ. We were excited to hear that Elle's newest book takes a firm step into the magical realism genre. Elle says,"This book is a love letter to readers of A Kind of Spark who wanted to see neurodivergent girls with real magical powers. I loved magical books as a child, and still do now, so to have a neurodivergent heroine in a fantastical world, it meant a lot to me to write. I'm thrilled readers are going to meet Ramya."


At its heart, this is an exciting magical fantasy with a quest to save an endangered town. Ramya is a feisty heroine whose dyspraxia can make her feel misunderstood and disconnected from the world around her. Ramya can also perceive things that most people can't - seeing through the Glamour that disguises magical creatures. As the story unfolds, Ramya learns to trust her own instincts more, despite feeling weary from a world that fails to give value to the way she is. Her unique way of seeing things is her superpower and her quest confirms to her that her whole unique self is powerful, wonderful and of greater value to the world than she dared to imagine.


Fantasy lovers will enjoy the imaginative cast of magical characters (beware - the fairies in this book are not at all as you might expect) and the idea that a co-existing magical world is thinly veiled all around us is one that has a timeless appeal in children's literature. Many young readers will relate to Ramya's struggle to navigate the emotional connections with different family members. We were pleased to see that this is only the beginning of Ramya's adventures and that there is more to come from the magical world she inhabits, with a sequel due in Spring 2023.

Format: Chapter book

Recommended Age:  9+

Publication Date: 3rd February 2022