Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels | Children and teenagers


Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree by Tanya Rosie and Chuck Groenink (Walker, £12.99)
With its lulling, looping rhymes and softly muted palette, this adorable picture-book account of a mother-daughter trip to gather mulberries evokes the sweet immediacy of small childhood rituals – and the loving memories they lay down for a lifetime.

John Agard’s Windrush Child by John Agard and Sophie Bass (Walker, £12.99)
Debut illustrator Bass’s intricate, colourful, arresting pictures bring out all the resonances of Agard’s spare text in this story of a child, a ship, a journey, and a new life enriched by the loves and memories of the old.

The Spectacular Suit by Kat Patrick and Hayley Wells (Scribble, £12.99)
Frankie has been looking forward to her birthday party for ages – but what is she going to wear? Dresses and jumpers just don’t feel right … A gorgeous glam-rock picture-book celebration of individual style, empathic family, and wearing what feels spectacular.

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi (Barefoot Books, £7.99)
Nour and her cousin Amir love detective stories and secret societies – until war comes to Damascus and forces them into hiding. But a treasure trove of rescued books gives them a new shared secret, sweetening the fearful monotony of life in an occupied city. A beautifully told and illustrated story of hope and community for five-plus.

Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi.
Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi.

Mega Robo Bros Robot Revenge by Neill Cameron (David Fickling, £8.99)
For seven-plus, Cameron’s third graphic novel about sentient robot brothers Alex and Freddy Sharma features sibling squabbles, struggles at school, battles with attention-hungry rivals Team Robotix, and the return of the sinister Wolfram, a half-destroyed robot bent on revenge. A standout series, full of sumptuous artwork and nuanced, thought-provoking storytelling.

Beyond Belief by Alex Woolf, illustrated by Jasmine Floyd (Caterpillar, £14.99)
The most mind-boggling areas of science – and mainstays of science fiction – are investigated in this gripping nonfiction book for seven or eight-plus. Full of acid-bright illustrations and intriguing factual snippets, it explores the ethical and practical considerations of invisibility, cloning, time travel, immortality and more.

 Pages from BeyondBelief 2
Beyond Belief by Alex Woolf, illustrated by Jasmine Floyd.

Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick (Farshore, £7.99)
It’s bad enough that Gustav, Hallie, Naira and Angelo have earned themselves a Saturday detention. But when their teacher disappears, the caretaker turns creepy and they discover something hideous living underground, the four of them must join forces if they hope to make it out of school alive. Deliciously scary and hilarious comedy-horror, perfectly pitched for eight-plus.

The Secret of Splint Hall by Katie Cotton (Andersen, £7.99)
After the second world war leaves them fatherless, Isobel and Flora return to their mother’s childhood home, now governed by a cruel new master. But no one there will talk to them about their family’s ancient, terrifying secret – or their duty to protect it. Ideal for nine-plus readers, especially Emma Carroll fans, this striking debut marries crisp historical realism with unsettling, believable fantasy.

The Secret of Splint Hall by Katie Cotton

The Last Firefox by Lee Newbery, illustrated by Laura Catalán (Puffin, £7.99)

Quiet Charlie Challinor struggles to defend himself against school bullies – but when a desperate time-traveller gives him a fox cub with a fiery secret, he discovers an inner fire of his own. A comic, adventurous and charming debut for eight-plus, with an engaging cast and a deftly evoked Welsh setting.

The Secret Sunshine Project by Benjamin Dean, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Simon & Schuster, £7.99)
When Dad dies, Bea and her big sister, Riley, don’t want to move to Gran’s home in the countryside – especially when they meet Rita, the self-appointed queen of the village, who despises anything that doesn’t conform. Then a grand plan to bring the joyous colour of Pride to sleepy St Regent’s Vale sets Bea and Rita on a collision course. Dean’s second novel for nine-plus is warm-hearted and cheering, with a dash of sparkle.

When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando

Twin Crowns by Katherine Webber and Catherine Doyle (Electric Monkey, £8.99)
Elegant, pampered Rose has been raised to rule Eana; Wren, her witch twin sister, has been raised to usurp Rose’s throne. What will happen when the sisters change places? With its alternating voices and infectiously playful enjoyment of fantasy tropes, this YA novel is pure indulgence – a minibreak in book form.

When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster, £7.99)
When three teenagers from different backgrounds witness a stabbing at a Manchester shopping centre, their shared trauma draws them into unlikely friendship. A powerful, stirring, acutely observed coming-of-age story that examines systemic racism in all its forms, ideal for teen fans of Angie Thomas.

At the End of Everything by Marieke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks, £14.99)
No one hopes for much at the Hope Juvenile Treatment Centre – but when the guards fail to show up for work one day, the teenage inmates discover just how little they’re valued. As plague sweeps the outside world, the Hope kids, forgotten by the state, must band together if any of them are to have a chance of survival. A poignant pandemic story for 14-plus, shining a bright light on the incarcerated and forgotten.

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