Kids bored? Here are this summer's best children's books

Summer is here, but if a holiday is out of the question this year, the kids could still lose themselves in a good book. Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallon have some suggestions

A spread from Amazing Islands, "a treasure trove of information for curious minds" written by Sabrina Weiss and illustrated by Kerry Hyndman

Ages 0-5

What would you do if you were asked to look after the moon? In The Moon Keeper by Zosienka (Harper Collins, £12.99) that’s just what happens to Emile, the polar bear, when the night creatures give him this very important job. He shoos away the fruit bats and clears the clouds so that nothing obscures its brilliant bright glow. There’s just one problem – as the days pass, the moon begins to get smaller and smaller until it’s “no thicker than a thread.” What if the moon disappears altogether? Will Emile be able to save it? A brilliant and imaginative tale about the phases of the moon, both quirky and original, while at the same time being comforting and reassuring – perfect for bedtime.

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Where’s My Peacock? by Kate McLelland (Little Tiger, £6.99) is a charming and sturdy board book which takes curious toddlers on a touchy-feely adventure to find their peacock. Can you spot a furry-tailed lemur or a toucan with a squishy orange beak? Full of bright colours and exciting textures this is a fantastic addition to any little one’s first library.

In Herbert’s Garden by Lara Hawthorne (Templar, £12.99) a little slug slimes his way across the garden and encounters many clever creatures on the way, from a spider spinning an intricate web, to an engrossed beetle rolling a ball of dung. Admiring each in turn, Herbert feels sad that he can’t make something as special… or can he? With bold, graphic style, Hawthorne’s illustrations give Herbert’s Garden a magical quality, and the striking perspective makes the garden feel like its own little planet. Full of appreciation for the natural world and the beauty of small things, this is a must-read for minibeast fans.

Peanut Goes For The Gold by Jonathan Van Ness (Harper Collins £12.99) is a delightful story about a non-binary guinea pig who dreams big, and surprises everyone by pirouetting their way to success. Van Ness wrote the book to celebrate “being true to yourself” and Peanut is an adorable and charming character who is sure to inspire others. ED

Ages 6-9

Children missing the friendship, fun and chaos of the school day can dive back in by reading The Worst Class in the World (Bloomsbury, £5.99). Class 4B has a terrible reputation, and you can quickly see why, with everything going spectacularly wrong for Stanley, Manjit and their friends. Bestselling author Joanna Nadin brings together a lovable cast of characters, skilfully drawn by illustrator Rikin Parekh, in this book packed with laugh-out-loud moments.

Football fans can take control and create their dream team in My Greatest Football Team Ever (Wren & Rook, £7.99) by Tom Fordyce. This activity book leads young readers through the process of building their team as the manager, looking at fantastic candidates for each position from across the world and throughout history. With less professional sport to watch as a family this summer, enjoying this book together is a great way for children and their parents to bond over the beautiful game.

Stix spends his time keeping out of sight – that’s what his grandma always taught him that a good mouse should do, although it makes life quite lonely. That all changes when he meets other animals at school in the basement, and learns about causing mischief and how to make a pest of himself! PESTS (Hodder, £6.99) by Emer Stamp is a hilarious story, with charming illustrations, disgusting moments and plenty of fun to keep young readers engaged.

Budding artists will find enough imaginative prompts and projects to keep them busy for a whole year in Be An Artist Every Day (The Ivy Press, £10.99) by Susan Schwake and Charlotte Farmer. Inside you can find a huge variety of activities to develop drawing skills, fun ideas like designing an outfit for a giraffe, and prompts to help children express their feelings through art.This is a colourful and creative book to inspire the artists of tomorrow one day at a time. SM

Ages 9-12

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Orion, £6.99) is full of magic and adventure, if you have the courage to step inside! When Flick discovers the old travel agency, she quickly realises there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s stacked with suitcases, each transporting her to a different world, from enchanted forests to busy cities. But with people and places disappearing from the suitcases, there’s a darker mystery to solve too. This thrilling debut by LD Lapinski is the perfect story to disappear into for a few days.

Adventure can also be found in Amazing Islands (What on Earth Books, £14.99), a non-fiction book written by Sabrina Weiss and illustrated by Kerry Hyndman. By dipping in and out of this beautiful book, you can visit islands all over the world and learn about their inhabitants. From funny facts, like the island with ten times as many cats as humans, to the fascinating wildlife unique to the island of Madagascar, this is a treasure trove of information for curious minds.

For children growing up in an increasingly virtual world, Kirsty Applebaum’s Troofriend (Nosy Crow, £6.99) asks interesting questions about our relationship with technology. Troofriends are the latest android technology – the perfect, trustworthy playmate for children, and a great way to show off at school too. But when Sarah and her android Ivy strike up a real friendship and Ivy seems to be making her own decisions, things get more complicated. A gripping, relevant and thought-provoking read.

The first in a new series, Mark Anchovy: Pizza Detective (Piccadilly, £6.99) is a must-read for mystery fans. Colin works part-time at his parents’ takeaway, but he dreams of becoming a private investigator, and finally gets his chance when he’s discovered by The Golden Spatula League for child detectives. To solve his assigned case while on a school trip to Rome, it will take all of his skills and some impressive gadgets, with a lot of cheesy jokes along the way. A hilarious and exciting story from author and illustrator William Goldsmith. SM

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