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Pick up an excellent book from the 2019 Waterstones Children's Book Prize shortlist

Written by · Published Feb 7, 2019

Illustrated books

The Boy Who Grew Dragons, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, A Winter's Promise

100 Dogs, by Michael Whaite

“Small dog, tall dog, playing with a ball dog, big dog, dig dog burying a bone.

“Can there really be 100 dogs doing 100 doggy things packed into the pages of this picture book? Follow the bouncy rhyme as it weaves its way through an array of hilarious hounds (from petted pugs to silly sausage dogs) and find out.”

Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love

“While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage.

“When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes - and even more importantly - what will she think about how Julian sees himself?”

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

“Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in the world’s history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations.

“Debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text with stunning illustrations as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history - from nurse Mary Seacole, to politician Diane Abbott, mathematician Katherine Johnson and singer Shirley Bassey.”

Mini Rabbit Not Lost, by John Bond

“Mini Rabbit is making a cake. Cake, cake, cake! But he’s run out of berries. No berries, no cake. No cake? No way!

“So off he goes to look for some. He’s not cold, not too small. And, no, no, definitely not lost - or is he?”

The Girls, by Lauren Ace

“Four little girls meet under an apple tree and form a bond that grows as they share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes.

“This illustrated tale charts the girls’ lives through ups and downs and laughter and tears. Find out how their friendship flourishes as the years pass by and the girls become women.”

The King Who Banned the Dark, by Emily Haworth-Booth

“There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There’s nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark. He would ban it.

“When the King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing “anti-dark” laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don’t need to worry about any of the scary things that might live in the dark.

“But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?”

Younger fiction

Brightstorm: a sky-ship adventure, by Vashti Hardy

“Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word that their father died in a failed attempt to reach South Polaris. But a mysterious clue leads the twins to question the story they’ve been told, and they join the crew of a new exploration attempt in the hope of learning the truth. Will Arthur and Maudie find the answers they seek?”

The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf

“There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He’s eight years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite!

“But the truth is, Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a war. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to be his friend. That’s where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we’ve come up with a plan.”

The Boy Who Grew Dragons, by Andy Shepherd & Sara Ogilvie

“When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandad’s garden, he doesn’t think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house - and gets the shock and delight of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragonfruit tree, and Tomas has got his very own dragon, Flicker.

“Tomas soon finds out that life with Flicker is great fun, but also very unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbrush and leave your pants hanging from the TV aerial. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker - and quickly.

“And then something extraordinary happens - more dragonfruits appear on the tree. Tomas is officially growing dragons.”

The House with Chicken Legs, by Sophie Anderson & Elisa Paganelli

“Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays somewhere long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. The only people Marinka meets are dead; they disappear when her grandmother, Baba Yaga, guides them through The Gate. Marinka wants to change her destiny, but her house has other ideas.”

Read Eleanor’s review of The House with Chicken Legs

The Mystery of the Colour Thief, by Ewa Jozefkowicz

“First the accident, then the nightmares and the thief who steals the colour from Izzy’s world. Will her neighbour and a nest of cygnets help solve the mystery of the colour thief?”

The Train to Impossible Places: a cursed delivery, by P. G. Bell & Flavia Sorrentino

“Suzy is surprised to find a grumpy troll building a railway through her house - especially when a gigantic steam train crashes into her hallway! This is the Impossible Postal Express, the trusty delivery service of the Union of Impossible Places, and Suzy becomes its newest recruit. And with her cursed first package, an Impossible adventure begins.”

Older fiction

A Winter’s Promise, by Christelle Dabos

“Long ago, following a cataclysm called ‘The Tear,’ the world was shattered into many floating celestial islands. Known now as Arks, each has developed in distinct ways and at a different pace; each seems to possess its own unique relationship to time.

“Ophelia lives on Anima, an ark where objects have souls, with which Ophelia can communicate. When she is promised in marriage to Thorn, from the powerful Dragon clan, Ophelia must leave her family and follow her fiancé to the floating capital on the distant Ark of the Pole. Though she doesn’t know it yet, she has become a pawn in a deadly plot.”

Boy 87, by Ele Fountain

“Shif is just an ordinary schoolboy who loves chess and playing with his best friend. But, one day, he is forced to leave home to avoid conscription into the army. He embarks on an epic journey, in which he encounters dangers and cruelties - and great acts of human kindness - as he bravely makes his way to a future he can only imagine.”

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

“Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.”

Read Emily’s review of Children of Blood and Bone

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me., by Malcolm Duffy

“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good - Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.

“Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of places.”

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets - her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.”

The Truth About Lies, by Tracy Darnton

“Jess has an incredible memory. She can remember every single detail of every single day since she was eleven. Even the things she’d rather forget. But are all her memories real?”

Sophie Green

Sophie Green

I work for the Suffolk Libraries stock team. I also write children’s fiction, short stories and comedy. Visit my website.