Best kids books 2019

The Little Town of Marrowville by John Robertson & Louis Ghibault (Illustrator) (9 - 11 years)

A welcome antidote to all the sugar-coated kids books in the world, The Little Town of Marrowville is more of a homage to macabre greats such as The Addam’s Family and the films of Tim Burton.

Marrowville is a town surrounded by deadly mist and filled with oddities and oddballs. Aubrey's father was turned into mince, and now he and his sister are on the run from the group that killed him… gulp! But with the help of some trusty sidekicks, a burglar without bones and trusty assassin they may just about escape their clutches. A weird and wonderful read with plenty of humour.

Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland and Sarah Horne (Illustrator) 8 - 11 years

What kid wouldn’t want a super-cool, super-amazing, superpower? Or grown-up, for that matter. But what if your superpower was randomly changing into a giraffe in the middle of assembly? Yikes.

That’s what happens to Charlie, who spontaneously turns into animals, making life slightly awkward. This is a seriously silly book for fans of Roald Dahl, a rib-tickler with an underlying, slightly-more-serious message that will show kids how to cope with worry and anxiety.

 

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad  & Henry White (9 - 12 years)

Meet Humza Khan, aka Little Badman, the self-declared greatest 11-year-old rapper Eggington has ever known. We all know life can be tough at 11, but what would you do if all your teachers disappeared and your weird aunties started to take over and things get, well… evil?

When they start trying to mess with Little Badman’s music, he and his friends Umer and Wendy decide enough is enough. It’s time to get on the case and take on these killer aunties to show them a thing or two. An absolutely bonkers book full of microwaved pants and killer bees, Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties is a genius comedy for kids.

Choose Llamas by Charlie Green & Matt Hunt (Illustrator) (3 - 6 years)

Try telling us there’s a cooler animal than a llama: that elaborate neck, that outrageous pout, that fashion week-ready shearling... This picture book gets little ones to build their very own llama squad, but don’t worry – you can make your own too as you read along together.

Picking a llama to journey to space with or which you think would win in a fearsome race is interactive storytelling at its best, and will also secretly enhance pre-schoolers decision-making skills.

Red Riding Hood by Beatrix Potter and Helen Oxenbury (Illustrator) (3 - 8 years)

Who doesn’t love to settle down with a classic fairy tale on a lazy winter evening? In this new version of the renowned story, Beatrix Potter offers a dark retelling of the original plot with flashes of her well-loved humour. Accompanied by Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations, this picture-based take on an old fave will have you all on a bedtime reading adventure, frantically trying to avoid the dreaded hungry wolf.

On The Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva (9 - 12 years)

If you’ve wanted to dive into Darwin’s original but haven’t quite mustered the time or energy, this picture-led retelling may be just the ticket. A gorgeously illustrated adaption by molecular biologist and illustrator Sabina Radeva, it brings the theory of evolution to life in an easily digestible way for curious kids (and adults).

Frostheart by Jamie Littler (8 – 12 years)

If the kid in your life likes their stories a little more fantastical, try this post-apocalyptic debut for fans of Nevermoor, Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon. Out way out where in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists, cut off from the rest of human-kin by nightmare-inducing monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. Outsider Ash is waiting for his parents to return, desperately trying to control his escalating powers while avoiding a rather grumpy yeti. A junior epic packed with twists and turns, with excellent illustrations kids will love to pour-over.

Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment by James Patterson (9 - 11 years)

We all know James Patterson from his imitable expanse of crime fiction (and those gruesome box office adaptions) but did you know he also writes kids books? Worry not, there’s no gore here, just steadfast kid-safe adventure. Max Einstein is his latest creation, a wily 12-year-old with a love of science and a head for problem-solving. Recruited by a mysterious organisation of young geniuses whose mission it is to solve the world’s toughest problems, things for Max look great, until sinister outfit ‘The Corporation’ attempts to get its mitts on her. An empowering book that will encourage a passion for STEM in both girls and boys.

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o & Vashti Harrison (Illustrator) (3-7 years)

Lupita Nyong'o has starred in some of the biggest movies of recent years, from Black Panther to Twelve Years a Slave, and now she is bringing her voice to the world of picture books to campaign for social justice and raise awareness around colourism.

Nyong'o's hero is Sulwe, a little girl with beautiful skin the colour of the night sky. She is darker than those around her and desperately yearns to be just like everyone else. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, it’s a moving story that teaches the importance of self-esteem from a young age and shows true beauty lies within.

Hidden Planet by Ben Rothery (3 - 5 years)

Detail-obsessed natural-history illustrator Ben Rothery has created both a work of art and a love letter to our natural world in Hidden Planet. His intricate, photograph-like illustrations are accompanied by facts and descriptions that showcase the diversity of nature. Kids can learn about the relationship between species and lesser-known detail about individual animals, fish and birds – did you know the clownfish can change sex? Kinda crazy, right. A big, bumper treasure trove of a book for animal-lovers, this is something that will capture inquisitive minds as they begin to learn about the world around them.

The Bandit Queen by Natalia O’Hara &  Lauren O'Hara (Illustrator) (5 - 7 years)

Sisters Lauren and Natalia O’Hara delighted the literary world with their folklore-laced debut Hortense and the Shadow in 2017, and their follow up this year has been equally loved. Vintage Parisienne-style illustrations take centre stage, intertwined with a witty story about an unruly pack of bandits who steal a little girl and make her queen. A light-hearted read, at its core is a deep and meaningful message about belonging which is perfect to be read out loud.

A Wild Child's Guide to Endangered Animals by Millie Marotta (8 - 17 years)

Today we are losing species more quickly than we are discovering new ones. This book tells the story of some of those we are at risk of losing forever, from the pangolin – the most illegally trafficked animal on Earth – to the treasured caribou. Millie Marotta is best known for her mindful colouring book worlds and this book, reminiscent of The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris, will make kids fall in love with the animal kingdom – and maybe even try to save it.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball (Book 14) by Jeff Kinney (8 - 12 years)

Greg Heffley is back in Wimpy Kid’s 14th escapade from the pen of Jeff Kinney. In this outing, Greg and his accident-prone family are doing a spot of DIY and making some home improvements that don’t go quite as planned. Expect toxic mould, unwelcome critters and a few disasters too many. Can the Heffleys bungle through as usual or do they need a bailout plan? A book for readers who love a chuckle.

The Ups and Downs of the Castle Mice by Michael Bond &  Emily Sutton (Illustrator) (3 – 7 years)

‘Once upon a time there was a family of mice who lived in a doll’s house. There were fifteen of them: Mr and Mrs Perk and their thirteen children. Their house was owned by a rich earl who lived in a castle.’ And so begins Michael Bond’s (of Paddington fame) rags to riches tale about a family of mice who live ever so grandly in a chintzy doll’s house. An ode to children’s books of yesteryear, the vintage style illustrations resemble Beatrix Potter’s classics and are packed with little critter-sized details to excite over together.

Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens (9-11 years)

Book nine in Robin Steven’s well-loved detective series Murder Most Unladylike sees super-sleuths Daisy and Hazel return to Deepdean to solve a new crime. The new term is in full swing and the school is getting ready for a big anniversary, but things have gone awry. Popular Daisy has lost her crown and the duo’s allies are now their enemies. Dun dun dun! As things go from bad to worse, Daisy and Hazel witness a shocking crime. As usual, it’s up to the girls to solve the case.  This is modern-day Agatha Christie for kids, full of ingenious twists and a cunning plot that will leave readers guessing till the very end.

More books for Christmas