Timid by Harry Woodgate, Little Tiger, £7.99
Timmy loves to perform, but their inner lion is shy, drowning out confidence with a roar of self-doubt. They rehearse for the big play with school friend Nia, and learn a few different ways to deal with anxiety – and how to reassure their fearful inner lion so Timmy can dash on stage, ready to impress. A gorgeous glitter picture book with a non-binary hero and a sweet and supportive message.
Cloud Babies by Eoin Colfer and Chris Judge, Walker, £12.99
Erin has always spotted animals in the clouds, even when she gets sick and has to spend time in the hospital. But when she gets better, she finds that her worlds “the school” and “the hospital” have become separated – until her parents and teacher help her bring them together, and share her “cloud babies” with her friends as well. This poignant picture book of imagination, illness, and recovery is based on Judge’s own experience supporting a child through leukemia treatment.
Colors and Colors Everywhere by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King Chai, Two Hots, £14.99
When a little girl starts drawing in her notebook, her imagination takes a huge leap with each color; A bright blue tree frog riding a red hot air balloon, drifting over a pink flamingo lake before clashing with crows requires a rainbow-spotted helicopter rescue. Lush illustrations with cut-out detail and open flaps take readers on a delightful journey through Donaldson’s harmonious text.
Carnival of Watches by Nick Sharratt, Barrington Stock, £6.99
School ended hours ago, but the first class is still gathering in the darkened playground, holding lanterns in the shape of clocks. What is happening? This intensely atmospheric little book chronicles the annual Burning of the Clocks march in Brighton to celebrate the winter solstice – full of excitement from a common ritual after dark, it’s the perfect winter read for 4+.
The Grumpus by Alex T Smith, Macmillan, £14.99
Grinchy Grumpus don’t like much, except for Brussels sprouts. When Yuletide causes a shortage of his favorite vegetable, he decides to visit the North Pole and enact the Dastardly, Dreadful Plan to stop Christmas—until the new friends he makes on the way prompt a change of heart. Starring a beloved version of Krampus, and filled with extravagant, colorful Smith illustrations, this handsome hardcover is perfect for sharing with kids ages 4+ in the run-up to the big day.
Faber’s Book of Bedtime Stories, Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre, Faber, £20
A brave goose, a dream jar, a classroom full of magical creatures and a lonely boy bonding with an injured bird: this collection of comforting stories of over 7 features works from an incredible group of authors including Emma Carroll, Natasha Farrant, Michael Mann and Rashmi Sirdishpande, all illustrated in glorious colour. .
Jenny Pearson’s Birth Process, photographed by Katie Kerr, Osbourne, £12.99
Oscar and his little sister Molly don’t usually spend Christmas at their grandparents’ lavish home, but this year the whole family will move to Hampshire – only to be swept up in Grandma’s ambitious birth plans. As if that wasn’t enough, the Archangel Gabriel landed at Chipping Bottom and allowed Joseph, Mary, a shepherd, a wise man, and a donkey to wander into exactly the wrong place and time. To save (first) Christmas, Oscar and Molly must help him trap the runaways, without anyone else finding out what they’re up to. This irresistibly silly festive tome for 8+ is full of sly and fond family notes, with a poignant thread of loss woven through the fun.
A Bright New World by Cindy Ford, illustrated by Bethany Lord, Welbeck, £18.99
Amid frightening news reports and piling despair, this luxuriously illustrated fantasy book for 8+ is filled with bold hope, a vision of a near future in which human habits, from eating to energy consumption, to travel to architecture, have changed, and that addressed the world’s most pressing problems. Beautiful and inspiring, it includes clear images of the dangers facing the planet, but also how solutions to each can be achieved, along with profiles of leading environmental innovators and young activists.
Midwinter Burning by Tanya Landmann, Walker, £7.99
Alfie Wright is an outsider, shunned by his classmates, and disliked by his mother. When he’s evacuated to Devon to stay on a farm with the kind and eccentric Aunt Belle, he finds life easier and kinder – and when he makes a local friend, Snage, he’s even happier than he’s ever been. But there’s just something odd about Snidge – something that seems to be associated with the Midwinter Burning Ritual at the stone ring on the cliffs… A gripping, time-rending thriller of 9 years or more from a Carnegie Award-winning author, with echoes of Goodnight Mr Tom and Stig from the dump.
love in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello, Simon & Schuster, £7.99
Trey Anderson’s family runs Wonderland, a black-owned bookstore. Ariel Spencer doesn’t get along with the handsome and popular Trey, but she needs the money for an art education, so when she opens up a vacation spot in Wonderland, she takes the job — and finds herself growing closer to Trey in more ways than one. But Wonderland is under pressure from greedy developers – can Ariel and Trey team up to save it from closing before Christmas? A sweet seasonal romance, interwoven with thoughtful commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of community.
Monochrome by Jimmy Costello, Little, Brown, £8.99
When Grace awakens to discover she can only see the world in black, white, and gray, it isn’t long until the rest of the world succumbs to the “monochrome effect”. Caused by microplastic pollution, its impact is more than frustrating; As accidents multiply, birds die and crops fail, society teeters on the brink of collapse. Grace then sees a flash of red, and is invited to join a research program that promises to reverse gray – only to discover layers of conspiracy and a shocking truth about the origin of the monochrome itself. Set in a very convincing near future, this thought-provoking 14-plus film examines the disastrous impact of unregulated capitalism on the planet and people.
Toxic by Natasha Devonne, UCLA, £8.99
Llewella (Loo) stands out in school: she’s an ace in academic achievement, has a successful blog and is a coveted leader in the annual play. Socially, though, she’s less comfortable — she’s battling an anxiety disorder, and she’s never had a best friend. When the seductress Aretha arrives, Lou quickly falls under her spell. Happy to be singled out by the only other biracial student in the school, she is eager to be as supportive as she can, even when Aretha’s demands begin to make her uncomfortable. Can you if you find the confidence to assert itself? A meticulously observed portrait of an abusive “friendship,” Devon’s YA debut makes for an unsettling compulsive read.