The best children’s books this autumn

Kevin, by Rob Biddulph
Kevin, by Rob Biddulph
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Beautiful illustrations of nocturnal creatures, imaginary friends and frustrated vampires bring these children’s stories to life, write Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallon

0-5 Years

Moon, by Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty

Moon, by Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty

Illustrator Britta Teckentrup and author Patricia Hegarty have created another stunning “peep-through” book with Moon (Little Tiger Press, £10.99). Teckentrup makes the night-time come alive, from shimmering jellyfish floating on the surface of the ocean to the dazzling white of the Arctic lit up by the light of the moon. Her soft and gentle illustrations perfectly complement Hegarty’s sweet rhyming text to create a book full of magic and wonder. There’s so much to talk about with children in this book; not just the animals and their nocturnal adventures, but also why the moon changes shape during its lunar cycle.

Sid Gibbons is in trouble – he’s chucked his dinner on the floor, smashed the bird bath with his football and left his room in a mess – but it’s not his fault, it’s Kevin’s! Turning the traditional concept of imaginary friend on its head, Kevin (Harper Collins, £12.99) looks at emotions, the issue of responsibility, and what it means to be a friend. Kevin is an absolute delight – witty, stylish and original, and it proves you are never alone when you have imagination. Rob Biddulph’s illustrations are bright and engaging, and with fantastic rhyming text this is sure to be a favourite with adults too.

Bobo & Co. Numbers (Bloomsbury, £6.99) by Nicola Killen is one in a series of colourful and fun lift-the-flap books based around Bobo the panda and his animal friends. In Numbers they play a lively game of hide and seek – the large flaps add an exciting reveal element to the story and there are clever associations between the numbers and how many friends are found.

If you were small enough, what would it be like to skate across the clean white pages of a book? In Lines (Chronicle Books, £12.99), Suzy Lee’s character does just that and the effect is magical. Telling a story without words, Lines shows how much power a pencil has in creating a whole world inside some pages with just a few sketches and a splash of colour. Children will love that the character inhabits the literal pages of the book, and Bobo & Co will hopefully encourage them to put their own marks to paper and create their very own stories. – ED

6-10 Years

When Mr Penguin decides to become a Professional Adventurer, he strikes gold with the perfect first mission: tracking down the missing treasure in The Museum of Extraordinary Objects. However, the quest turns out to be a lot more difficult than he imagines, with codes to crack and dangerous creatures to avoid. Alex T Smith’s Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure (Hodder, £9.99) is the perfect introduction to mystery stories, thanks to the enthusiastic but clueless Mr Penguin and his clever sidekick Colin. There are even clues which young readers can try to spot along the way.

Dread Cat (Barrington Stoke, £6.99) is a cat and mouse story with a twist which is perfect for emerging readers. All of the mice are terrified of Dread Cat, and with good reason, but can they trust him when he promises to turn over a new leaf, or are cats and mice destined to be enemies forever? Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen brings this simple story to life with his trademark storytelling style, complemented by Nicola O’Byrne’s cheeky illustrations.

The Little People, Big Dreams series of biographies for children continues with the inspirational story of Rosa Parks written by Lisbeth Kaiser (Frances Lincoln, £9.99). Like the others in the series, this book adapts Rosa’s story well for children, following her from her difficult childhood experiencing discrimination and segregation to her role as an activist in the civil rights movement. This a great story for families to share to motivate children to dream about the future and stand up for what they believe in.

Anna Wilson’s new release Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire (Stripes, £5.99) balances spooky characters with an imaginative storyline to create the perfect book for young readers this Hallowe’en. Vlad has never fitted in with the rest of his family – he can’t turn into a bat, is scared of the dark and hates his boring vampire lessons. He decides to try out a human school instead, but he has to be creative to hide his real identity, leading to some hilarious scenes as captured in Kathryn Durst’s charming illustrations. – SM

9-12 Years

A Place Called Perfect (Usborne, £6.99) is a weird and wonderful tale about a town where nothing is as it seems. Violet moves to Perfect with her parents, a town where everyone wears glasses and things seem different to where she lived before. Then her dad disappears, and her mam hardly seems to notice, so Violet knows she is the one who needs to find out where he’s gone and what is really going on. Helena Duggan builds an intriguing world and tells a gripping story in her debut novel.

Joseph Coelho brings the city to life through the eyes of a child in his moving collection of poems, Overheard in a Tower Block (Otter-Barry Books, £6.99). The poems deal sensitively with a range of themes, from broken families and bullying to the power of stories to take you beyond the city to another world. Each poem has its own merit, but particular highlights include “Binley House” and “Tables Red, Green and Blue”. An accessible and relevant book of poems to accompany children as they grow up.

Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer (Bloomsbury, £12.99) is gripping

from the outset when a plane carrying four children to Britain from Manaus crashes deep in the Amazon jungle. Alive, but very much alone, the children have to learn how to survive and find their way if they are to have any hope of getting home. Rundell brings the sights and sounds of the jungle alive, taking you into the heart of the beautiful yet dangerous world of the Amazon. An enthralling story of survival, friendship, discovery and adventure.

Cressida Cowell gets her new series off to an exciting and promising start in The Wizards of Once (Hodder, £12.99). The warriors and wizards have always been enemies, taught to hate each other and separated by the walls of the warrior fort. However, when Xar, a young wizard, tries to catch an evil witch and steal her magic and Wish, a warrior girl, gets caught up in his plan, the two worlds collide. A fantastical adventure ensues, filled with mythical beasts, cliff-hangers and an epic struggle between good and evil. – SM