January - Books of the Month

The Booksfortopics January Top Picks

We've picked our top five new children's books this month.

Sky Song

Abi Elphinstone

A magical adventure story with a strong female lead, ‘Sky Song’ will quickly whisk readers away into an enchanting fantasy world.  Set in an icy landscape populated by a power-hungry Ice Queen, tribes of children living in secret hide-outs and delightful magical animals, this text cleverly explores how the ‘magic’ of acceptance and tolerance can advance personal and societal change. On their quest to save the kingdom from the clutches of the Ice Queen, adventurers Eska and Flint discover that long-standing borders between different tribes can be broken down and that openness and courage are better markers of identity than ethnicity or class. Fast-paced and sparkling with magic on every page, this book is a real delight. A free scheme of work for KS2 is also available via the author's website.

Also featured on: Frozen Worlds topic

The Light Jar

Lisa Thompson

The Light Jar is an intriguing and enjoyable story that features a boy who is compelled to find coping mechanisms for real and metaphorical darkness. What is exceptional in this text is the way in which the real and the imaginary are seamlessly merged so that its sober themes (including domestic abuse) can be processed through fairytale filters of cottages in the woods, jars of light and mystery treasure hunts. This brave and thought-provoking book brilliantly captures the feeling of finding oneself caught on thresholds that will seem familiar to readers in upper KS2, such as childhood versus adolescence, attachment versus separation and reality versus imagination. This is the kind of book that you will read quickly but find yourself pondering over for a long time after.

Star in the Jar

Sam Hay & Sarah Massini

This is a warm-hearted picture book that taps into the awe and comfort brought about by the presence of the stars in the sky. A little boy finds a special star and does exactly what small children do when they discover something interesting; keeps it in a jar to carry around and treasure. However, as darkness falls the other stars create a message calling for the special star to be returned to its rightful place, leaving the boy and his sister (who narrates the story) to figure out that they can set it free and still take comfort in its splendour. We love how the illustrations enchantingly contrast the dark blanket of the night sky with the illuminated star that almost seems to be glowing from the pages. This is a real story-time treat that is well suited to Reception and KS1 classrooms.

Women in Sport: Fifty Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sport is a superbly illustrated non-fiction text focusing on exceptional women athletes who became trailblazers or game-changers in their chosen sports. Each spread contains a short and interesting explanation of a different sportswoman’s achievements and a compelling illustration with additional facts blended into the design. The artwork is impressively bold and unapologetic like many of the book’s subjects and there are also pages containing infographics such as timelines, anatomical diagrams and statistics about equality in sports. What we love is that the style and format makes the subject matter appealing and accessible to children and we therefore think it is a really important text that inspires readers to overcome barriers and go for gold.  

Also featured on: Sports/Olympics topic

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Drew Daywalt & Adam Rex

Highly original and likely to appeal to reluctant readers, this humorous picture book conjures up the legend behind the popular playground game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. The three characters of Rock, Paper and Scissors are transformed into superhero-style warriors on a quest to become all-time battle champions, until they each encounter the other two and reach a hilarious deadlock. Filled with hyperbole, visual gaffs and a little bit of cheekiness (like describing an apricot as a "a fuzzy little butt”), this clever and boisterous picture book from the author of The Day the Crayons Quit is an excellent choice for KS1 and lower KS2. Now available in paperback.

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More new releases for January
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