Item List

September 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 September 2022.

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Recommended Age: 9+

Format: Chapter book

Publication Date: 1st September 2022

The Light Thieves

Helena Duggan

Something strange has happened, and the earth has shifted from its axis. The sun is burned with a blemish and no one knows how it appeared. The people of the world have been told that this will eventually mean the sun will disappear - it would seem the world end is nigh.

This new fragile world is dominated by tech genius and billionaire Howard Hansom. And rather conveniently, he declares he can reverse this disastrous fate for the planet. But of course, this means everyone will need to live in his artificial town, which will tip the balance of the world and put the earth back where it should be.

Grian is a boy growing up with this uncertain future and is an avid fan of Hansom tech, ruled by his smartwatch avatar Bob. Grian has a typical relationship with his older sister Solas, who is on her own agenda in life. But when she goes missing, Grian is sure she has run off to Hansom city to save the world. Grian and his friends set off to find her; not only do they track her down, but they are also faced with a mysterious place with artificial intelligence that fuels a thousand questions. What is Hanson up to?

What is really happening to the sun?

The intriguing prologue to Helena Duggan’s book kept me hooked yet puzzled simultaneously. The book is described as quirky, and I think that is a fitting word. Duggan has an incredible imagination, and the fantasy elements of the story cleverly intertwine with real life elements with which readers can make connections. This story perhaps reminds us of the power of technology and the negative aspects of the dominance of large corporations. There is clearly an environmental message running through,   reminding us of how fragile our planet is too.

Reviewer: Suzanne Booth

Recommended Age: 7+

Format: Illustrated short chapter book

Publication Date: 4th August 2022

Paper Boat, Paper Bird

David Almond & Kirsti Beautyman

From the author of Skellig, the story of Paper Boat, Paper Bird is an unlikely tale of finding friendship in unlikely places. When Mina and her   mother travel to Japan, the unfamiliar language and intriguing sights fuel her imagination, especially when she is gifted an origami boat and bird by a kind woman on the bus. When Mina decides to write a message on her new origami gift and leaves it on a river in the temple gardens, she couldn’t predict that it would find its way to a young boy who was in need of a friend of his own.

Easy-to-read, with striking black, white and red illustrations, Paper Boat, Paper Bird is a perfect addition to any KS2 library or classroom. Anyone who has travelled will understand the wonder and hope that comes with visiting a new place and discovering its wonders, and the reader feels this through Mina and her own journey in Japan. David Almond’s poetic storytelling also allows for readers to touch on what could otherwise be difficult topics: the loss of a parent, dealing with life changes, new members to a family. 

Kirsti Beautyman’s illustrations add to the layers of meaning beautifully. I particularly liked that this was not a long book and that it was broken up by the wonderful illustrations: many children in schools can find reading daunting, however the layout and structure of the story makes this book accessible to most children in KS2 and is perfect for those that are transitioning from smaller picture books.

Reviewer: Christine Ivory

Recommended Age: 8+

Format:  Chapter book

Publication Date: 1st September 2022

The Treekeepers

Kieran Larwood & Chris Wormell

Liska is a griffyx - part fox, part dragon, part eagle - an ancient creature lost to the world except to those shapewalkers who take on their form. Warriors who take on the form of long-dead beasts are protectors of the Undrentree and of all who live in Arborven. While Liska marvels at the order that everyone in Arborven appears to respect and follow, she also grows frustrated at the way she is treated and spoken to, even by her own family, and longs for the day when she can earn her own stripe for bravery. 

With a split second decision, Liska suddenly finds herself alerting the city to an invasion of the rot, the greatest threat that the city faced. Can she make her voice be heard in time and can anyone stop Bitterblight from sucking the very life out of the Undrentree and all who rely on it for their magic?

Following on from Larwood’s success with the Five Realms series, I had high expectations to discover another fantasy world by this author. This one is filled with plot twists and turns, and a cast of characters that the reader inescapably becomes emotionally invested in. Yet again, Larwood has delivered. Great as a class read, this book could also be enjoyed as a source of discussions about friendship, inclusion, the class system and mythical creatures.

I had planned to read this as a bedtime story with my daughter, but by the second day I found myself squirreled away, needing to know what happens next and binge reading through to the finale! I’m left hoping that, much like the Five Realms books, this is going to be a trilogy too, as I would love to know what happens to Liska and her unlikely companions next.

Reviewer: Jane E

Recommended Age: 3+

Format: Picturebook (oversized format)

Publication Date: 27th July

Lifesize Baby Animals

Sophy Henn

Following on from Lifesize Animals and Lifesize Dinosaurs, Lifesize Baby Animals does  exactly what it promises and over the course of its 32 oversize (30x30cm) pages shows the actual size of real-life babies, from tiny baby possums (the size of a full stop) to gargantuan baby blue whales (the size an ambulance at birth). 

The illustrations are attractive and often portray the animals within their natural   habitats. The text is accessible and clear, suitable from 3+, and introduces basic factual information (“It’s actually seahorse daddies that give birth: to up to 2,000 babies at one time!") combined with engaging questions (“Imagine having that many brothers and sisters…How would you remember all their names?”).

Reading this book aloud will prompt a chorus of oohs and aahs.  A nice finishing touch is the final page, which shows a summary of each baby and adult creature with is length shown in ‘lifesize books’ and an invitation to measure yourself in books to see how you compare – this could make an excellent maths link, measuring out bears, elephants and whales on the classroom floor.

Lifesize Baby Animals is a beautiful classroom book, which would be invaluable during a topic on lifecycles/growth. 

Reviewer: Carol Carter

Recommended Age:  9+

Format: Chapter book

Publication date: 4th August 2022

Mouse Heart

Fleur Hitchcock

The mouse may sometimes help the lion in need is one of the proverbs quoted before the prologue and beautifully sums up the ethos of this story.

Fleur Hitchcock is a master of mystery writing and involving the reader to solve clues along with the characters. Mouse Heart is no different and expertly weaves costumes, props and a close-knit cast into a captivating story for children, while holding adult interest too.

Young Mouse’s experience of vile-villains, sword fighting and outwitting deadly assassins are purely staged at first; all part of the daily performances put on by her adopted theatre family. When drama and reality suddenly collide, Mouse is caught up in a tangle of confusion, secrets and mistaken identities.

The Moth theatre setting could double for the Globe and there’s more than a hint of Shakespearian theatrics, transposed to Bristol and the fictional 18th century reign of Queen Anne. The Conte de Monte Cristo’s plight comes to mind with a wrongful imprisonment and occurrence of several gruesome murders – not for the faint-hearted! 

Mouse may be small, but she is a fierce detective, determined to prove her friend, Walter, is innocent of murder. Persevering against all odds, Mouse is forced to challenge what she thinks she knows about her friends and fellow cast members. Naïve to the dark goings-on in an adult world, nothing stops her curiosity in pursuit of the truth.

As readers, we are right there with Mouse. Experiencing every heart-stopping moment, daring stunt and bright idea. An edge-of-your seat adventure to the final page.

Reviewer: Kate Spurrier