Breezy reading

In the final instalment of our summer books round up Antonia Charlesworth picks the best children’s books to pass the time during the six-week holidays

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Younger children 

Look, A Butterfly, written and illustrated by Japanese author Yasunari Murakami (Gecko, £6.99) is a colourful and quirky board book for babies following a butterfly as it lands on different things, like flowers and a playful kitten. 

Flip, Flap, Snap! is a new series of pop up books by Spanish illustrator Carmen Sadana (Templar, £8.99). Coming in both farm and jungle themes babies can turn the top and bottom of the page independently to mix and match the animal heads and bodies.

Forever and a Day by Sarah Jacoby (Chronicle, £12.99) is a poignant picture book following a single day and reflecting a child and adult’s perspectives on time.

The Pirates of Scurvy Sands by
Johnny Duddle (Templar, £11.99) features the Jolly Rogers, the rum bunch from previous stories. This summer Matilda is going on holiday with them and while some pirates look down on her for her clean teeth and tidy clothes, she soon wins them over as she unravels the mystery of some legendary missing treasure.

In The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Barker-Smith (Templar, £12.99) Isaac plays in his favourite pool on a mountainside, releases a jar of water and follows it on a journey around the world. An educational book about the water cycle, the main event here is the sumptuous illustrations. 

Rufus by Simon Bartam (Templar, £11.99) follows the funny monster in search of someone to scare – colourful illustrations will be recognisable to anyone who’s enjoyed the aliens that populate Bartam’s Man on the Moon series. 

With bold colourful illustrations Spyder by Matt Carr (Scholastic, £6.99) follows the world’s smallest secret agent as it’s called upon to protect a birthday cake. 

About a mole with ADHD, Little Mole’s a Whirlwind by Anna Llenas (Templar, £11.99) carries an important message about tolerance as the titular character drives his parents and teachers to distraction breaking things, messing about, and never stopping. 

From the author of Aliens Love Underpants, Claire Feedman, Bear’s Story (Templar, £11.99) features traditional illustrations from Alison Friend and follows a story loving bear as he attempts to come up with ideas of his own to replace the old story book that he’s read so many times it’s fallen to pieces.

Star Wars Block (Abrams, £12.99) is a block book aimed at initiating the youngest readers into the Star Wars universe. The book features illustrations of 100 words every fan should know. 

The Society of Distinguished Lemmings by Julie Colombet (Templar, £6.99) is a funny and detailed story of a bear that disrupts a civilised lemming society. 

The Old Man by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois (Gecko, £10.99) attempts to teach children about homelessness. The old man no
longer remembers his name, he has no job, no home and no family.
He goes unnoticed until a young girl crosses his path. 

Older children 

In Dennis and the Chamber of Mischief by Nigel Auchterlounie (Studio Press, £6.99), a chapter book with interactive puzzles based on the Beano comic,  Beanotown has become boring, Dennis has lost his awesomeness and even Gnasher is fed up. The anti-hero sets out to find the Golden Pea Shooter of Everlasting Fun in an attempt to remedy it. It’s one of a series of new books from the comic character including Beano Builds (Studio Press, £6.99 each), with instructions to build dens, go-karts and more, and the Beano Book of Mischief, Mayhem and Fun (Studio Press, £14.99) containing 100 boredom-busting activities.

Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter and Felicita Sala (Amulet, £9.99) is the story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and a Sasquatch who set out on a grand adventure. 

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Chicken House, £6.99) is set in medieval France and follows a humpback boy, shunned by villagers, as he sets out with a pilgrim in search of St Peter. But there’s more to the quest, and to the boy, than meets the eye.

Battle of the Beetles by MG Leonard (Chicken House, £6.99) is the final installment in the award-winning Beetles trilogy. Young Darkus is charged with seeking out the evil beetle villainess in the Amazon to thwart her plans to take over the world. 

Just Jack by Kate Scott (Piccadilly Press, £5.99) is a book about a troubled boy who has learnt to fit in by acting like everyone else but makes a new friend, Tyler, who encourages him to be himself. 

Malala, Frida, Beyonce, oh my. Anthology of Amazing Women by Sandra Lawrence and Nathan Collins, (Bonnier, £12.99) features beautiful double page spreads on trailblazers.

Hari and his Electric Feet by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Sam Usher, (Barrington Stoke, £6.99) is a story of a young boy with an unusual talent for Bollywood dancing which he harnesses for good. 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (Picadilly Press, £6,99) is a touching tale about the collision of nature and technology, told through the eyes of Roz, a robot who comes to inhabit a strange island. 

Creature of the Order by Jules Howard and Fay Evans, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid, (Bonnier, £14.99) collects members of the same taxonomic order together in an informative and beautifully illustrated way.

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll (Chicken House, £6.99) is an enchanting story of Magpie, an orphan girl in 18th century France, who dreams of being the first to fly an air balloon over the king and queen. 

With a limited colour palette, James Davies’ Meet The… series (Bonnier, £9.99) cleverly illustrates tales of Egyptians and Romans.

Polly Diamond and the Magic Book by Alice Kuipers (Chronicle, £10.99) is the first in a funny series about a girl who loves to write. 

Lego Animal Atlas (DK, £15.99) has the added bonus of including bricks to build four animals. It’s educational in more ways than one – teaching children about the animal kingdom and inspiring them to have a go at building, and adapting, other animals featured in the book.

The Mapmakers’ Race by Eirlys Hunter (Gecko, £6.99) follows a group of brave children who have 28 days to compete against adult route finders to create a railway through the mountains. 

Ade’s Amazing Ade-ventures: Battle of the Cyborg Cat (Bonnier, £5.99) is the first in a three-part adventure series about a part cyborg boy by Paralympian Ade Adepitan.

Agatha Christie meets Harry Potter in the Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton (Chicken House, £6.99). Seth the downtrodden kitchen boy is in the frame for poisoning one of the guests at a strange gathering of magicians. 

The Yark by Bertrand Santini (Gecko, £6.99) is a funny and subversive chapter books about a monster that eats children. Laurent Gapaillard’s illustrations enchant with echoes of Where The Wild Things Are. 

The Great Sea Dragon Discovery by Pippa Goodhart (Catnip, £6.99) is a historical novel following curious young Bill who makes a discovery at a time when Darwin and the discovery of dinosaurs were changing the way people saw the world. 

Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James (Harper Collins Children’s, £12.99) is the first in a trilogy celebrating the magic of story and imagination as it follows 11-year-old Tilly as the characters in her favourite books cross over from the page into real life.


Tiny Infinities by Jean Heilprin Diehl (Chronicle, £12.99) is a mature coming-of-age tale following Alice through a transitional summer during which she becomes a teenager and witnesses her parents separate. Swimming, an odd new friend, and a mute babysitting charge help her through this difficult time, depicted with humour and warmth. 

Below Zero by Dan Smith (Chicken House, £6.99) is a modern adventure tale and thriller exploring artificial intelligence. Zak’s plane has crash landed on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base where he discovers a cold dark nightmare only he can understand. 

In The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass (Amulet, £12.99) 13-year-old Briana’s dad’s heart gives up on him and it takes root in her. She’s in need of the extra strength as she’s charged with looking after her autistic younger brother when her mother’s grief becomes debilitating. An inspiring story with a life lesson about relying on and taking care of yourself. 

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt (Amulet, £7.99) is a funny and clever antidote to romance fiction about 15-year-old Merri whose head is filled with unrealistic ideas about boys after reading about too many Darcys and Romeos but realises she’s in charge of her own story. 

Young Adult

In Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni (Chicken House, £7.99) Tess is coming to terms with the suicide of the boy she loved and has dropped out of high school when she receives a message from him. An emo tale for the social media age with a sweet life-affirming message for fans of 13 Reasons Why and All The Bright Places.

Giant Days by Non Pratt (Amulet, £7.99) is a celebration of female friendship played out at Sheffield University. YA author Pratt’s original novel is set in the world of John Allison’s Giant Days graphic novels. It follows three first year girls with contrasting personalities that all come in useful when it comes to unpicking some weird, cult-like, campus behaviour.

Firebird by Elizabeth Wein (Barrington Stoke, £6.99) sheds light on the Soviet women pilots of the Second World War. It follows Nastia, daughter of revolutionaries, as she fights to save the Motherland. 

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