The Extraordinary Life of Serena Williams by Shelina Janmohamed

The Extraordinary Life of Serena Williams by Shelina Janmohamed, illustrated by Ashley Evans, is the story of the legendary tennis player, from her childhood to the hard work she put into her career to her worldwide success.

The Extraordinary Life of Malala Yousafzai by Hiba Noor Khan

The Extraordinary Life of Malala Yousafzai by Hiba Noor Khan, illustrated by Rita Petralucci, is about education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, from her childhood in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to her speeches at the United Nations.

The Worries: Sohal finds a Friend by Jion Sheibani

Sohal Finds a Friend is the first in a new series of books that explores common problems faced by children. 

In this book, Sohal is worried about a lot of things, so draws them to make himself feel better. But when he wakes up the next morning, Sohal discovers a new set of funny, furry friends at the end of his bed. Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big and Alone soon turn Sohal’s life upside down, and it’s up to him to work out how to keep his worries under control.

A good introduction for talking to children about their anxieties, and perfect for fans of Pixar’s Inside Out.

Topics/themes: Mental health, friendship, anxiety

Spike and Ali Enson by Malaika Rose Stanley and Sarah Horne

Everyone loves Ali, Spike’s baby brother, but Spike isn’t so sure about him. With his bright poos and slightly scaly-looking skin, there must be something strange about Ali, thinks Spike.

As he delves deeper to find the truth, Spike begins to realise his family is more different than he thought.

Topics/themes: Family, humour

Seasons of Splendour by Madhur Jaffrey

Legendary chef Jaffrey turns her hand to telling classic folktales in this collection of mythological stories drawn from a heritage of Hindu epics.

The stories, including that of the great god Krishna and the tale of how the monkey god Hanuman helped defeat the Demon King Ravan, are arranged according to the sequence of the Hindu year. Jaffrey introduces every story with a short notice from her childhood, and the book is illustrated throughout in black line and tone by Michael Foreman.

This series is perfect for fans of Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series.

Topics/themes: Folklore

Dance Dreams by Malaika Rose Stanley

Stanley’s book fills a much-needed gap, that of Black ballet dancers. Dance Dreams focuses on 13-year-old Keisha, who is over the moon to receive a callback from the Birchwood School for Dance. But while Keisha knows the school could get her closer to her dream of being a ballerina, attending would mean leaving behind her friends. Will Keisha’s dreams turn into a nightmare? 

Stanley grew up in Birmingham, and worked as a teacher in Zambia, Uganda, Germany, Switzerland and Britain, before becoming a full time writer.

Topics/themes: Dance, the arts, friendship

Books by other publishers

Cover of Leila Rasheed's Empire's End: A Roman Story

Empire's End: A Roman Story by Leila Rasheed

Published by Scholastic

This book focuses on Camilla, a young North African girl who travels with her mother and father from Leptis Magna to Rome in 207 AD. Just months later, Leila and her family are sent to Britannica, where tragedy strikes, leaving Camilla alone  to navigate the world of the Empress while her father travels north.
Based on real historical events, this is a look at a largely untold story in British history. Rasheed is a children’s and YA author, and her first book Chips, Beans and Limousines won a Red House Read of the Year award.

Topics/themes: British history, adventure, politics

Cover of The Last Last Day of Summer

The Last Last-day-of-summer by Lamar Giles and Dapo Adeola

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

These books feature Otto and Sheed, cousins, mischief makers and local sleuths in their zany town in Virginia, America.

In The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, Otto and Sheed are bickering when a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. With the help of some stranger people and even stranger creatures Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town before time stops for good.

The pair’s second adventure, The Last Mirror on the Left, takes place a year later. Unlike the majority of their town, Missus Nedraw of the Rorrim Mirror Emporium remembers the time freeze from The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, and how Otto and Sheed took her mirrors without permission in order to fix their mess. She’s willing to overlook their misdeeds if they help her capture one of her worst prisoners, who has escaped.

Giles is an award-winning American author of young adult novels and short stories, while Adeola is a rising British illustration talent, whose other books include the Look Up! series created with Nathan Bryon.

Topics/themes: Adventure, friendship, mystery

An engineer like me cover

An Engineer Like Me by Dr Shini Somara & Nadja Sarell

Published by Hachette Children's

This empowering illustrated story introduces children to the worlds of engineering and problem-solving through the character of Zara. Curious about everything, Zara travels around the city with her gran, marvelling at how planes stay up and roller coasters do loop-the-loops. As she goes on her journey, Zara learns about brilliant engineers who have shaped the world around her, and who inspire her to come up with her own inventions.

Engineer and TV presenter Somara has also included pages encouraging children to try making the perfect paper aeroplane and drop an eye safely from a height.

Topics/themes: STEM, women in STEM

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