Hello, and Merry Christmas! I’m abusing my position shockingly today, veering away from middle-grade entirely; instead, I’m seizing the opportunity to celebrate some of the picture books and young fiction which got lost from my round-ups because of word-counts and lay-outs. All would make ideal Christmas presents for littluns, new readers, or anyone who appreciates superb illustration and scant words that pack a punch…There are also *whispers* a couple of YA titles in here too. But I will be back with more brilliant MG in the New Year - it looks like 2016 will be another fantastic year for middle grade and children’s publishing generally. I can’t wait!
Where’s The Elephant? by Barroux (Egmont)
Beautiful seek-and-find picture book, with an affecting conservationist message.
Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long (OUP)
Outrageous, irreverent comic-book spin on the classic fantasy quest – will enthral children and adults alike!
The Zoomers’ Handbook by Ana and Thiago de Moraes (Andersen)
Have you got what it takes to be a Zoomer-keeper? Splendidly anarchic picture book, full of shigers, dogephants and horsodiles.
Refuge by Anne Booth, illus. Sam Usher (Nosy Crow)
Moving retelling of the Christmas story, beautifully illustrated, with a warm, universal feel. (All proceeds go to War Child UK.)
Pirates in Pyjamas by Caroline Crowe, illus. Tom Knight (Little Tiger)
What do pirates wear to bed? You’d be surprised! Joyous, rhyming, onesie-wearing romp.
How Many Legs? by Katja Spitzer (Flying Eye)
Ice-creams, unicorns, cowboys – a bold, bright little counting book with a difference, perfect for toddler-sized hands.
Mango and Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Polly Faber, illus. Clara Vulliamy (Walker)
Mango is lonely in the Very Busy City - but when she meets striped tapir Bambang, she knows she’s
found the perfect friend. Adorable animal adventure.
The Official Astronaut’s Handbook by Louie Stowell and Roger Simo (Usborne)
Superb factual how-to about what it takes to be an astronaut, with a foreword by Tim Peake.
Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell, illus. Laura Ellen Anderson (Scholastic)
Transporting tale of umbrella-borne flight, disappearing cats, and a very special apartment block, from an outstanding author-illustrator team.
The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom, illus. Kristjana S Williams (Wide-Eyed Editions)
Vivid, evocative journey through some of the world’s richest and wildest habitats.
Timeline by Peter Goes (Gecko)
Subtle, involving illustrated history of the world, from the Big Bang to the iPod and beyond.
The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew (Hot Key)
In a Britain under Nazi rule, what would contemporary teenagers’ lives look like? Jessika Keller’s father is a high-ranking Reich official, and Jessika has always been a good girl. But her dearest friend, Clementine, has not…Devastating, thought-provoking alternate history.
One by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Only Sarah Crossan (The Weight of Water) could write a verse novel about conjoined twins, and effortlessly break the reader’s heart. Tippi and Grace have never been apart, never been to school, until the money for their tuition runs out. Mainstream education is a challenge. But they adapt – and then Tippi becomes ill…Profoundly moving.