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Round-Up: New Younger Fiction

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations


Finding the right books is essential in helping young readers successfully make the leap into their first chapter books, and traditionally teachers have complained of a gap when it comes to finding quality books that have the right appeal to children launching into independent reading.

We recently put together a list of books for this exact purpose – all with colour illustrations, shorter length and clear formatting –  picked with those readers in mind who need something to bridge the gap between reading scheme books and lengthier chapter books (see our First Chapter Books booklist here). We’re now starting to see much more choice coming through for this market and in recent months publishers have sent us some lovely new titles to recommend too.

Below is a round-up of some of our favourite new illustrated chapter books suitable for 5-8 year olds, all publishing this Spring.

1. Unipiggle: Unicorn Muddle

Hannah Shaw

Available here

One for fans of Harriet Muncaster’s Isadora Moon and Sarah MacIntyre’s Grumpycorn, this is the first story in a series of illustrated short chapter books about Princess Pea and her rather un-royal palace pet – Unipiggle! A madcap and muddy adventure with high-energy design in full colour and tips to draw your own Unipiggle too.

Publisher: Usborne

Publication date: 6th February 2020

Order Unipiggle here


2. The Adventure of Harry Stevenson: Guinea Pig Superstar

Ali Pye

Available here

Harry Stevenson is the world’s laziest and hungriest guinea pig who always seems to land himself in trouble. These short stories – the second collection in the series – offer a humorous peep into a guinea-pig’s-eye-view of the world. This time Harry visits a school for the first time and manages to get caught up in a real-life robbery. With bright fluoro illustrations and gentle humour, the stories appeal to pet-lovers and come with extra facts and puzzles in the back.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s

Publication date: 6th February 2020

Order Guinea Pig Superstar here

3. Clever Cakes

Michael Rosen and Ashley King

Available here



Two clever trickster stories from master storyteller Michael Rosen – featuring cunning Masha, who saves her cakes from the clutches of a hungry grizzly bear, and super-smart Peggy who tricks the grumpy king out of his golden belly-button in a lie-telling contest (move over Britain’s Got Talent!). This is another winner from Barrington Stoke’s Little Gems series, formatted in Barrington Stoke’s super-readable and dyslexia-friendly style, along with colour illustrations by Ashley King.

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Publication date: 15th March 2020

Order Clever Cakes here


4. Magnificent Mabel and the Rabbit Riot

Ruth Quayle and Julia Christians

Available here

Three character-led short stories about Mabel Chase, who is all too aware that sometimes life isn’t fair. Like for instance how Mabel wants a pet but her parents say that she is not responsible enough, or how she has a wobbly tooth even though she is not keen on the tooth fairy, or how despite sprinklers being the most fun thing ever, Mabel doesn’t even have one in her garden. Despite life’s apparent injustices, Mabel manages to stay magnificent in this giggle-worthy set of stories designed with early readers in mind, formatted with a larger-than-usual font and highly illustrated with black and white illustrations.

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 6th Feb 2020

Order Magnificent Mabel and the Rabbit Riot here

5. Little Bird Lost

Patricia Hegarty and Sebastiaan Van Doninck

Available here

Of all the early illustrated fiction we received this term, this is the one that charmed our 7-year-old resident book tester the most – in fact it was the winner by a mile. What first appealed was the hardback cover, animal theme and endearing colour illustration on glossy pages – but what really gave the story the edge of enjoyment was its gentle narrative about an injured bird and his journey through the changing seasons. With a higher than usual image to text ratio on each page, this a really achievable independent read for 6-8 year olds to lap up – and the good news is that it belongs to a growing series of colour fiction in the same format from publisher Stripes.


Publisher: Stripes

Publication date: 9th Jan 2020

Order Little Bird Lost here

6. Captain Whiskers

Jeremy Strong and Matt Robertson

Available here

‘King of Comedy’ Jeremy Strong brings a new five-chapter short story that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever wished they could have a pet. Jackson thinks he must be the only one in his class who doesn’t have any pets. He also thinks the mysterious Man with the Top Hat that he meets is joking when he promises to send Jackson one hundred cats. But it’s no joke, and before Jackson knows it cat-shaped chaos commences. Another colour-illustrated ‘Little Gem’ from Barrington Stoke.


Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Publication date: 15th March 2020

Order Captain Whiskers here



7. Wigglesbottom Primary: Break-Time Bunnies

Pamela Butchart & Becka Moor

Available here

The latest in a popular series of stories about Wigglesbottom Primary – although each volume can also be read on its own. Break-Time Bunnies contains three short stories about a class of Year 2 children who, it must be said, seem remarkably familiar to anyone who has ever spent time in a primary school. In this collection, the pupils encounter bunnies in the playground, auditions for a TV talent show and a seemingly bewitched musical instrument. The stories are delightfully silly and highly illustrated with lively, tri-coloured pictures that give the books an increased visual appeal.


Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 5th March 2020

Order Break-Time Bunnies here


8. Magicat

Jennifer Gray, Amanda Swift & Richard Watson

Available here

Magicat falls from the sky one Haloween night and lands in a treat bucket after being knocked off a witch’s broom by a rogue firework. Friends Jessie and Ali think he’s oodles of fun – although they have to admit he’s not quite as good at magic spells as he’d have them believe. Magic and mishaps aplenty follow is this charming chapter book that caters for newly confident readers in KS2 (8+) – as well as for those who are reluctant or dyslexic readers.

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Publication date: 15th Feb 2020

Order Magicat here


You can find more early chapter book recommendations on our booklist of First Chapter Books.



Young Fiction display poster for classrooms and school libraries: Download a copy of this poster here.

Thank you to the publishers of these titles for sending us review copies .

Check out our top 7 middle-grade texts for the Spring term, too!


Where next?

> Check out our First Chapter Books booklist

> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic booklists

> View our printable year group booklists

> See our Books of the Month.

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