Children’s Books 2017: The Ones You May Have Missed. January 31, 2018 – Posted in: Book News

What a year 2017 was for children’s books! While the big names, the celebrity authors, the award-winning books and the long-awaited sequels were snapped up by many an eager book worm (and their parents), there were also lots more stories to love which might have slipped under your radar.

So, while I hope you did pick up the the latest Julia Donaldson picture book, Oliver Jeffers’s wonderful Notes For Living on Planet Earth, the first in Cressida Cowell’s brand new series, and of course Phillip Pullman’s long-awaited sequel The Book of Dust, here are a few other equally wonderful books… just in case you’d missed them…

Best for 3-5 year olds:

Stardust by Jeanne Willis.  One little girl dreams of being a star. But whether it’s finding Mum’s lost wedding ring or winning the fancy-dress prize, her big sister always shines brighter. Yet for her grandad she is a star and, as he dries her eyes and they both gaze up at the night sky, he tells a story, the story of the beginning of the world. Everything and everyone is made of stardust, and we all shine in different ways.

I Really Want the Cake by Simon Phillip

There’s a smell I can’t ignore.
It’s wafting through the kitchen door.
It’s time for me to find out more.
I think it might be cake.
How do you resist the most amazing cake ever? Especially when your mum has left a note saying that you MUST NOT eat the cake? Wonderful rhyming text and lots of humour make this a not-to-miss picture book.

Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones.  Izabelle Gizmo just loves to invent, but her inventions never seem to work the way she wants them to. And that makes her really CROSS! When she finds a crow with a broken wing she just has to help. But will she be able to put her frustrations to one side and help her new friend to fly again?  A fabulous, feisty new picture book heroine, who shows us all the power of not giving up!

Penguin Problems by Jory John.  Little Penguin has problems: his beak is cold; there’s snow everywhere; the water smells salty; he waddles; he looks the same as everybody else. It’s not easy being a penguin!  In this hilarious first collaboration from Jory John and Lane Smith, a penguin explains to human readers about what penguin life is really like … and it isn’t all fun and games you know!

I Am Bat by Morag Hood.  With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ But Bat’s cherries keep going missing! One by one, the precious red cherries are whisked away… Will they ever be restored to their rightful owner?

Grandad’s Secret Giant by David Litchfield.  “He has hands the size of tables,” Grandad said, “legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats. Do you know who I mean?” “Yes,” sighed Billy. “The Secret Giant. But he’s not real!” Billy doesn’t believe his Grandad when he tells him there’s a giant living in his town, doing good deeds for everyone. He knows that a giant is too big to keep himself hidden. And why would he WANT to keep himself a secret? But as time goes on, Billy learns that some secrets are too BIG to stay secret for long…

The Lumberjack’s Beard by Duncan Beedie. Every day, Jim Hickory the lumberjack heads into the forest with his trusty axe and chops down trees. Unfortunately, all sorts of creatures lose their homes in the process, so Jim gives them a home in his beard – until one day it all just gets too much. Time for Jim to come up with a better solution! A fantastic story told with humour and an important environmental message.

The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright.  Sometimes change comes along whether we like it or not . . . but if you let it, change can be the making of you. Kevin the Koala discovers this and more in this delightful and stylish picture book with a reassuring message about the joy of adventure!

Tidy by Emily Gravett.  Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates and ends with the complete destruction of the forest! Will Pete realise the error of his ways and set things right?  Lush foliage and delightful characters abound in this cautionary tale of overenthusiastic neatness that delivers its message of environmental preservation with subtlety and humour.

My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner.  A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult.  A powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.

Best for 6-8 Year Olds:

Marge and the Great Train Rescue by Isla Fisher.  Have you met Marge? She has rainbow hair, tells wild stories and she’s the best babysitter in the whole world.  Things do SOMETIMES go off the rails when Marge is around but Jakey and Jemima don’t mind that. After all, no one else could rescue a train, help Jakey’s wobbly tooth or cause chaos at the zoo! 3 short stories in 1 brilliantly entertaining book.

Mint Choc Chip at the Market Cafe by Jonathan Meres.  Priya loves helping out at the stall her family have run for donkey’s years. But one day she meets Stan. His dad sells everything from dog treats to fish tanks – just like the Sharma family! Priya is horrified, but Nana-ji is on hand to offer lessons on the balance sheet of life.  A wonderful story about sharing and friendship and community.

Captain Firebeard’s School for Pirates: The Sneaky Sweet Stealer by Chae Strathie.  Welcome to Cap’n Firebeard’s School for Pirates – the fiercest, baddest school on all the Seven Seas. Step aboard me hearties, and learn how to become a real pirate. It’s a new term at Captain Firebeard’s School for Pirates, and Tommy, Jo, Milton and Spencer are back on board the Rusty Barnacle for another adventure. But something fishy is going on. Someone is stealing sweets from Liquorice Len’s tuck shop!

Spy Toys by Mark Powers.  The world’s leading toy manufacturer makes playthings for the rich and famous, and every toy they create contains a tiny computerised brain and a unique personality. These toys are seriously awesome! But every so often there’s a faulty toy … These special toys are recruited by the mysterious Auntie Roz, and together they make up THE SPY TOYS.  Their first mission: to protect the prime minister’s son from being kidnapped!

The 91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths.  Join Andy and Terry in their 91-storey spectacular treehouse. They’ve added thirteen new levels, including the world’s most powerful whirlpool, a mashed-potato-and-gravy train and a human pinball machine. Why not try your luck on the spin-and-win prize wheel or hang out in a giant spider web (with a giant spider), or you can always get your fortune told by Madam Know-it-all … The 7th book in this fantastic series.

The Troublesome Tiger by Tamsyn Murray.  Zoe loves living at Tanglewood Animal Park! In this animal adventure Zoe can’t wait to meet Tindu, the magnificent tiger who’s just arrived at Tanglewood. But Tindu seems sad, and refuses to leave his den. With the Terrific Tigers weekend just two weeks away, the pressure is on! Can Zoe dream up a plan to help Tanglewood’s tiger feel happy in his new home?

King Flashypants and the Creature From Crong by Andy Riley.  When rumours of a huge and terrifying monster called the Voolith reach Edwinland, King Edwin Flashypants decides that, to be a proper king, he needs to go and fight it. Meanwhile, Emperor Nurbison has had a similar idea, but he has a much sneakier plan for what he can do with the Voolith….

Piggy Handsome: Guinea Pig Destined for Stardom! by Pip Jones.  Piggy Handsome is a very confident Guinea pig with a hugely inflated ego – he hails from a long line of very famous Guinea pigs. But sadly Handsome hasn’t yet achieved world renown. With the help of gruff-talking Jeffry the budgie and the inadvertent efforts of two dastardly villains Dan and Dolly Dixon, Handsome might still realise his dream.

Cowboy Pug (The Adventures of Pug) by Laura James. Pug and his faithful companion, Lady Miranda, are going to be cowboys for the day – and first of all they’re going horsetrading! But with their noble steed, ‘Horsey’, safely acquired, it’s not long before they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Can Pug the reluctant hero overcome his fears and save the day once more?

The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop. This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret … she can’t actually read! When her family win a competition and move into the Montgomery Book Emporium, Property soon discovers that all is not what it seems!

Best for 9-12 Year Olds:

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok. Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker.  Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by ‘his boy’, Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind… This is the extraordinary story of Peter, Pax, and their journeys back to each other as war rampages throughout the country.

The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr.  When pickpocket Danny accidentally bids for Maharajah the elephant at an Edinburgh auction, he’s swept up on an unforgettable journey. His new employer, a zookeeper, transforms Danny into a bejewelled Indian prince, and orders him to ride Maharajah from Scotland to his new home in England. Based on a true story, this addictive adventure is unputdownable!

Fish Boy by Chloe Daykin.  Billy loves the sea and uses swimming as a way of escaping the difficulties of his unwell mother. He increasingly creates an alternative world for himself, inspired by watching David Atkinson on the television. But when a mackerel swims up to Billy’s face, blows bubbles into his Vista Clear mask goggles and says: ‘Fish Boy’, Billy knows he can’t keep it secret, because . . . a crazy talking mackerel changes EVERYTHING!  Shimmering with almost-magic and adventure!

The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold.  Frank doesn’t know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He’s big, he’s weird and he smells. And yet, there’s something nice about Nick’s house. There’s strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever. A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it.

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.  Amihan lives on Culion Island, where some of the inhabitants – including her mother – have leprosy. Ami loves her home – with its blue seas and lush forests, Culion is all she has ever known. But the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever. Banished across the sea, she’s desperate to return, and finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?

Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds by Horatio Clare. It’s the Easter holidays, you’ve just become as small as an earwig, the swallows are back (and offering you rides), and a spider wakes you up in the middle of the night and asks you to save the world. As if that weren’t enough, the Ladybirdz turn up from Bohemia to find they’re not welcome in Rushing Wood …

Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson. Everyone loves superheroes, they solve problems and make people happy, and that’s good because my mum needs cheering up. Also, I’ve found out that before I was adopted my real mum called me ACE. So now I’ve just got to prove to the world that’s what I am. One mission at a time … Hilarious, heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure, this is a story about the power in all of us to be extraordinary.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. A moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

The Accidental Billionaire by Tom McLaughlin. One crazy experiment involving a shed, a mallet, and a poorly aimed laser beam results in Jasper’s cat Rover, becoming the world’s first talking cat! The Cat Chat 2000 is born and soon people are handing over all of their cash to get a talking cat.  With his newfound wealth Jasper can finally live the life he’s always dreamed of … But is there a price to pay for bringing talking cats to the world?!