The best children's books for autumn

Emma Dunn and Sara Mallon round up the best books for kids as the nights draw in

An illustration from The Skies Above My Eyes
An illustration from The Skies Above My Eyes

0-5 Years: The Dreamer (Chronicle Books, £12.99) is a sweet and whimsical tale of a green pig who dares to dream that one day he might fly. He would love to join the birds in the sky but can he make it happen? Full of hope and creativity, this little pig is not just a dreamer but a determined inventor – he tries and he fails but he never gives up. With a lot of imagination, some ingenious contraptions and help from his friends along the way, The Dreamer shows that anything is possible – even flying pigs.

Mrs Blackhat by Mick and Chloë Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books, £12.99) is a hilarious tale of a modern witch’s dilemma – what is a witch to do when everything she owns is black, except for her cat who remains stubbornly ginger? No matter what Mrs Blackhat does, and no matter how many spells she buys from Shopalot, she can’t turn her beloved cat black. Fantastically funny with a fast-paced rhyme, this is a read-aloud delight.

In Ruby’s Worry (Bloomsbury, £6.99) a little girl discovers that she has a worry and the more she thinks about it the bigger it gets. Tom Percival’s characters are always incredibly well drawn and full of depth – even his monobrowed Worry is so cute that you just want to give it a hug and tell it that everything will be OK. This book is a lovely prompt for a discussion about childhood fears and even about adult ones. It serves as a gentle reminder that we all worry but if we talk about things we can get through them together.

Once Upon a Raindrop (Caterpillar Books, £11.99) combines stunning, inky watercolours with delicate rhythmic prose that weaves its way throughout the book to tell the story of water. James Carter’s beautiful poetry helps make facts about water easy to understand and Nomoco’s illustrations complement his writing perfectly. Each page flows from one to the next creating a visual treat for any young reader who is curious about the world and how it works. - Emma Dunn

6-9 Years: In The Legend of Kevin: A Roly-Poly Flying Pony Adventure (Oxford Children’s Books, £8.99), talented storytelling duo Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre launch a new series which promises to be full of hilarity. A violent storm leaves Kevin the flying pony stranded on the balcony of Max’s flat, but thankfully Max and Kevin discover that they share the same taste in biscuits and a determination to restore the flooded town to normal. McIntyre’s illustrations ensure that Kevin flies off the page in this highly entertaining read.

The Secret Seven return to solve an intriguing new case in Pamela Butchart’s take on the classic Enid Blyton series. Mystery of the Skull (Hachette, £6.99) sees the group’s summer holiday disturbed by a chilling discovery with everything pointing to the local hotel and its new owners, setting them off on a mission to find out the truth. Butchart retains all of Blyton’s original charm while bringing the series up to date, with plenty of humour, adventure and delicious snacks along the way.

The Skies Above my Eyes (Words & Pictures, £14.99) is a stunning concertina book which will take you on a journey into space. Children of all ages will be enchanted as they travel first amongst the birds and planes, then out towards what lies beyond to explore satellites, the moon and the International Space Station. Author Charlotte Gullian and illustrator Yuval Zommer have created a beautiful and informative non-fiction book to pore over and enjoy together.

As Hallowe’en approaches, children looking for a wee bit of a scare can find fearsome and funny characters alike in Barry Hutchison’s Night of the Living Ted (Stripes, £5.99). Lisa-Marie and Vernon are getting their dad a present when they see a special offer to create free Hallowe’en bears, but they quickly regret making them when they come to life during the night and try to take over the town. You will be racing through this book to discover whether the teddies triumph in their evil plan. - Sara Mallon

9-12 Years: Fionn is terrified of the sea, so a summer on Arranmore with his grandfather, so close to the very thing he fears, seems like a nightmare. But Arranmore isn’t just an island – magic dwells there and Fionn has a role right at the heart of it, if only he can be brave enough to accept it. Catherine Doyle’s The Storm Keeper’s Island (Bloomsbury, £6.99) is an impressive debut, blending mythical fantasy with the very human story of a boy struggling to understand his grandfather as he slips further into Alzheimer’s disease.

Steve Martin invites young readers to join Chef Academy (Ivy Kids, £9.99) in a vibrant activity book illustrated by Hannah Bone. Learn how to follow a recipe, prepare your food and plan a menu in this easy-to-follow guide, complete with stickers and a poster to keep track of your progress towards becoming head chef. A great project for children to work their way through and gain great skills along the way.

Charli Howard brings positivity and encouragement to young readers in her first children’s book, Splash (Nosy Crow, £6.99). Molly wants to become a professional swimmer, but as she reaches the end of primary school, the pressure to fit in and give up what she loves is strong, particularly from Chloë who is supposed to be her best friend. Howard takes Molly on a moving journey of self-discovery with a heart-warming conclusion, as she navigates struggles with her friends and her dreams.

When Ahmet joins the class from far away and doesn’t speak English, everyone is interested in him. As the children in the class learn more about Ahmet and what it means to be a refugee, they are drawn into a bigger discussion about how many people can come into the country, taking them all the way to Buckingham Palace. The Boy at the Back of the Class (Hachette, £6.99) by Onjali Q Rauf is a thoughtfully written, sensitive and uplifting introduction to this topical subject. - Sara Mallon