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New children's books for May 2017

Written by · Published Apr 28, 2017

Dinosaur Boo!, Old Hat, Dragon's Green, Can I Join Your Club?, Moonlocket, Football School

Board books

ABC, by Ladybird

“This beautiful chunky board book introduces young children to the letters of the alphabet, helping to teach both the letter shapes and the names of an object beginning with each letter. Both adults and children alike will love the wonderfully detailed images of everyday objects, taken from iconic, vintage Ladybird artwork of the 1960s.”

Definitely one for the nostalgic grandparent or the student of graphic design rather than an actual baby, this Ladybird Vintage board book is perfectly styled for reminiscence. Bottle of ink anyone?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 123 and Where is the Very Hungry Caterpillar? by Eric Carle

These are beautifully produced board books featuring animals and more from many of Eric Carle’s books. They are both simple, clear and very stylish.

Find Spot at the Museum, by Eric Hill

“Spot, Mum and Tom can’t wait to visit the museum. When Spot goes missing after being distracted by the gift shop, Tom and Mum search high and low, in some unexpected places, before finding him at last.”

It’s always good when a new Spot book comes out. This one has flaps to look under, just like the very first Spot book, so it should be perfect for toddlers who like to interact with their reading material.

Dinosaur Boo! The deinonychus, by Jeanne Willis

Jeanne Willis’ funny rhyming story about a deinonychus is one of a series for the very young supported by the Natural History Museum. There are four titles planned altogether and each will contain a pronunciation guide and a fact sheet about dinosaurs.

Picture books

Old Hat, by Emily Gravett

“Harbet had a hat. His Nana had knitted it for him when he was little. Harbet likes his comfy knitted hat, but the others keep jeering at him - OLD HAT! OLD HAT! No matter what headwear he buys - be it a towering fruit platter hat, an old-boot-on-the-head hat or a brightly lit traffic cone hat, Harbet cannot keep up with the latest fashions. As soon as he gets a brand new hat it is already OLD HAT!

“It seems that Harbet will never fit in. But when one day he decides to go his own way, Harbet discovers just how much more fun it is to stop following others and think for yourself.”

Can I Join Your Club?, by John Kelly & Steph Laberis

Poor old Duck tries unsuccessfully to join the lion club, snake club, and the elephant club, but he is never “what they are looking for”.

The text and the illustrations are eloquent, evocative, and amusing. The message about friendship is sweet and well told. It’s a super book for the pre-school age group and great fun to read aloud.

A Quiet Night In, by Jill Murphy

A perfect picture book for story time, re-issued with a new(ish) cover 24 years after it was first published. Life has changed so much during the intervening years, but the scenario of boisterous children resisting bedtime is timeless.

Counting with Tiny Cat

There’s loads of visual humour in this brilliant new picture book from Viviane Schwarz. Tiny Cat isn’t much good at counting the balls of wool he’s trying to juggle. He isn’t much good at juggling either, come to think of it. But the book is a delight in black, grey and red. As a maths resource, it is useful too, introducing the concept of “none”, and several synonyms for “a lot”.

Short chapter books

Up, Up and Away!, by Tracey Corderoy

It’s good to have the popular picture book characters Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam appearing in short chapter book format for children who have just started reading alone.

There are 3 quite lengthy stories in this one, but lots of rollicking adventures, laughter throughout and super illustrations by Steven Lenton on every page to ease the path to reading independence.

Cloud Castle, by Zanna Davidson

If you have just grown out of Rainbow Fairies, but still love that comforting feel of a series, why not give the new Fairy Unicorn books a try? Cloud Castle is the second, and there are more titles due out this summer.

Horrid Henry’s Swimming Lesson, by Francesca Simon & Tony Ross

If you happen to be a fan of Horrid Henry, you will rejoice to hear of any new book about him. We are especially pleased to see that this one has been published as an “Early Reader”. With just two or three sentences per page, this book is readable for many children in KS1.

Junior novels

The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge, Medieval Knight in Training, by Philip Ardagh

“John Drawbridge has moved to Widemoat Castle to learn to become a knight. And there is a LOT to learn - how to charge with a lance on horseback without falling off, why the spiral staircases always go up in a clockwise direction, how to defend the castle against invading parties, and much more.

“So it’s no wonder that John decides to keep a diary (even if it is only an imaginary one) of his time at the castle. Things REALLY liven up when the castle is attacked by an invading Welsh party - but can John foil their plot before it’s too late?”

Moonlocket, by Peter Bunzl

“When infamous escapologist Jack Door breaks out from Pentonville Prison, he sets out for the town of Brackenbridge, determined to find his missing treasure - the Moonlocket. But when Lily and Robert unwittingly find themselves caught in Jack Door’s search, they discover that Robert’s history holds the secret to the Moonlocket’s whereabouts.”

This is the sequel to Cogheart, the stunningly original Victorian thriller which won such praise last year. It’s due to be published on 1 May, and we are eagerly waiting its arrival - should be excellent if the first book is anything to go by.

See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng

Getting fantastic reviews already is this beautifully written, moving story of a space-obsessed young boy mourning his dad:

“All 11-year-old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other lifeforms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like. But for a boy with a long-dead dad, a troubled mum, and a mostly-not-around brother, Alex struggles with the big questions. Where do I come from? Who’s out there? And, above all, how can I be brave?

“Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down.”

Absolute Zero, by Helen Cresswell

First published in 1977, this is the second of the classic Bagthorpe Sagas reissued for a new audience of 8-10 year-olds, and perfect for children who enjoy madcap family stories:

“Something strange is happening in the Bagsthorpe house. Ever since Uncle Parker won a luxury cruise in a competition, the family’s gone competition crazy. Only Jack and his trusty dog Zero are staying out of it. So just how does the mixed-up mutt become the most famous dog in Britain?”

Tilly and the Time Machine, by Adrian Edmondson

“Tilly is seven and a half. She lives with her dad, a scientist who used to invent things for the government. They are very happy, but they are both missing Mummy, who died about a year ago.

“So when Tilly’s dad creates a time machine in their back garden, there’s only one place that Tilly really wants to go: back to her sixth birthday party, when she ate too many cupcakes and her mummy was there. There’s only one problem. Tilly’s dad has got stuck in the past, and she must follow him through history, from battles on boats to Buckingham Palace, to get him back.”

A Mind of its Own, by Martyn Ford

This is the third title in the Imagination Box series about 10-year-old Tim who lives in a hotel where the mysterious Professor Eisenstone, inventor of the top secret contraption, was a guest. Tim discovers that anything he imagines will appear inside the box, so he imagines Phil, a finger monkey, and the pair of them embark on a series of thrilling adventures.

This series is original, exciting, has likeable main characters and reads aloud well too. It deserves to be better known, so we have ordered lots of copies of the other two titles, too - The Imagination Box and Beyond Infinity.

Dragon’s Green, by Scarlett Thomas

“Effie Truelove is a new pupil at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange, with its twisted grey spires and an English teacher so frightening she gives the class nightmares. When her beloved grandfather is brutally attacked, Effie promises to look after his magical books. But then shady book-collector Leonard Levar gets his hands on them and Effie has to embark on the most dangerous adventure of her life.”

This is Scarlett Thomas’s first book for children, and marks the start of her new dystopian fantasy series Worldquake, set in a time after the demise of the internet. It’s getting great reviews. With a feisty female lead, imaginative old-fashioned storytelling and evocative language, it is already being compared to Inkheart and Harry Potter.

Junior non-fiction

All our libraries have shelves full of high quality information books for children to pore over, dip into, search through and enjoy. Here are a few new ones:

Football School: where football rules the world, by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton

“A groundbreaking new series from two bestselling writers that teaches you about the world through the prism of football. The first book is packed with awesome true stories, real science and fascinating facts and will make you laugh loads. When do footballers poo? Can you play football on Mars? What is a magic sponge? You will find the answers to these questions and more in chapters on subjects such as history, geography, biology and maths.”

Birds, by Jill Bailey and David Burnie

“The perfect companion for children eager to understand the world of ornithology. Explore the skies and find out all about various types of birds, from birds of prey to tropical birds, and how a bird makes its nest.

“With exciting activities, including how to make a bird feeder, and plenty of fun facts, this is a must for children curious about birds and keen to explore the world.”

The Usborne Book of Growing Food, by Abigail Wheatley & Ani Betts

We love this well-illustrated book, because it’s filled with practical advice and achievable projects for gardening with children from Foundation through to KS2. In fact, some of the advice looks useful for adult readers too!

Children who are reluctant to plough their way through a chunky novel often succeed with well-captioned factual books like this one, because the text is in small meaningful chunks, and the reading has a purpose. It has a contents page and an index as well, so children can practice their information skills.

Jo Dixon

I work for Suffolk Libraries Stock Team.