The Best Children's Books for the Easter Break

Can a trio of plucky squirrels save their grandpa from being baked in a pie? Can little Esma find her family in Marrakesh’s maze-like souk? And why does nobody seem to notice that there’s a tiger on the train? Drama abounds in Emma Dunn and Jasmine Ewens’ round-up of the best holiday reading for kids

Ages 0-5

Thank you by Jarvis (Walker Books, £12.99) follows a young boy as he goes about his day thanking everything from his "boots for knowing the way” to “tyrannosaurus for being the longest word I know”. The collage artwork gives the illustrations a sense of texture and depth, with each image created out of carefully assembled pieces. Poetic and dreamy, this inspiring picture book will motivate everyone who reads it to think about the things they love and appreciate, no matter how small they might be.

Runaway Cone by Morag Hood (Two Hoots, £12.99) is a hilarious picture book that takes its silliness very seriously. When Gary the cone goes missing, Digger and the other cones set out on an adventure to find him and bring him home. Morag Hood has a unique understanding of young children’s humour and little ones will delight in the antics of some very expressive roadworks.

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Esma Farouk, Lost in the Souk by Lisa Boersen and Hasna Elbaamrani, illustrated by Annelies Vandenbosch (Floris Books, £12.99) is a sweet tale celebrating the joy of childhood summers and the love of families across countries and cultures. Little Esma loves the souk, a vibrant market in Marrakesh which she visits every year with her family. The story evokes the heady scents, bright colours and hustle and bustle of the busy marketplace. With so much going on, Esma quickly gets lost, but a group of acrobats come to her rescue with an ingenious plan of how to reunite her with her Mama.

In There’s a Tiger on the Train by Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb (Faber and Faber, £7.99) a little boy’s journey to the seaside starts with a dapper tiger in the seat next to him, and gradually the whole train fills with more creatures until their carriage is a riotous hubbub of giant hippos, crocodiles with armbands, and sophisticated pugs. But will dad ever notice? Or is he too busy to pay attention? Lyrical rhyming text and whimsical illustrations give this picture book a timeless feel with an unexpected (but perfect) ending. – ED

Ages 6-8

Croaky: Search for the Sasquatch by Matty Long (Oxford University Press, £6.99) is the first instalment in an un-frog-ettable new series. Budding adventurers will love the exploits of young "woggle scout” Croaky Hopper as he takes his first trip with his eccentric scout leader, which proves to be filled with more danger, sleuthing, and large-footed beasts than either of them had bargained for. Will Croaky learn to look before he leaps and follow in the footsteps of his explorer hero, Tennessee Toad? Packed with hilarious and vibrant illustrations, this charming chapter book is ideal for those who are getting started with independent reading.

Tiger on the TrainTiger on the Train
Tiger on the Train

Enter the wholesome world of your new favourite friendship in Lola and Larch Fix a Fairy Forest by Sinead O’Hart, illustrated by Rachel Seago (Nosy Crow, £6.99). When the rabbit that Lola and her mum rescue turns out to be a fairy named Larch in disguise, Lola can’t believe it. Lola quickly learns Larch needs her help to protect the fairies from the villainous (and fabulously named) Euphorbia Spurge. Lola and Larch make the perfect mystery-busting, problem-solving, giggle-inducing duo. Charm and whimsy abound in this sweet story, with gorgeous illustrations throughout – look out for the next in the series.

Three brave squirrels face their most delicious adventure yet in Apple of My Pie by Mika Song (Pushkin Press, £8.99). When Gramps gets swept away in a truck headed to the apple orchard, Norma, Belly, and Little Bee jump to the rescue – but will they be able to get to Gramps before he’s made into a pie? This graphic novel is simple but captivating and full of humour. Limited text makes it an excellent pick for less confident emerging readers, with detailed illustrations ensuring that nobody misses out on the fun of a story that is both heart-warming and delightfully silly. – JE

Ages 9-12

The Secret of the Moonshard by Struan Murray (Penguin Random House, £7.99) introduces a fantastical world where science and magic are on the brink of war. When Domino, who has spent her life held captive by the science barons, escapes to the city and discovers that she is actually a powerful wizard, she must do all she can to keep the magic alive. An utterly compelling read packed with thrills, fantasy, pathos and thunder lizards, this book draws you in to its unique universe with rich descriptions and characters that you can’t help but root for.

Thank You, by JarvisThank You, by Jarvis
Thank You, by Jarvis
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When Juno is dropped off at her grandfather’s house in Little House by Katya Balen, illustrated by Richard Johnson (Barrington Stoke, £7.99), she feels angry and abandoned. She’ll be spending the summer far from her parents, who have flown across the world to volunteer in areas that have been torn apart by disaster. When Juno discovers a ramshackle dolls house in her grandfather’s attic, however, she sets out to create a perfect new home for the tiny wooden family – and with every stoke of paint, her perspective begins to shift. A powerful and emotive story about having the courage to strive for a better world. As with all Barrington Stoke titles, this is a dyslexia-friendly book.

The girls in Tuva’s class seem to be dividing in two: the ones who want to “fall in love” with boys, and the ones who find boys gross and prefer playing outside and making dens. As tensions rise within her friendship group, Tuva isn’t sure which camp she falls into. That’s when new girl Mariam arrives, and suddenly Tuva finds herself thinking about her and wanting to be around her all the time. Cross My Heart and Never Lie by Nora Dåsnes (HarperCollins, £10.99) perfectly captures the growing pains of being an almost-teenager and the giddiness of having your very first crush. This graphic novel is sweet and joyful to the core. – JE

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Scottish Book trust seeks stories of hope from people across Scotland

Every year, Scottish Book Trust calls for members of the public to submit a real-life story as part of their annual writing opportunity that supports and encourages people from across Scotland to take part.

Scotland’s Stories, hosted by Scotland’s national book charity, is now in its 16th year. It gives anyone, regular writers and those telling their story for the first time, the chance to have their non-fiction pieces published in online. Some will also be selected to appear in a free book, to be distributed during Book Week Scotland (19-24 November 2024), Scotland’s national celebration of books and reading. This year’s theme of hope ties in with studies that show that creative writing can support mental health and wellbeing, increase happiness, and can even delay or reduce symptoms of dementia.

The opportunity is open to everyone in Scotland, whether they write regularly or haven’t penned anything since school. Stories can be about little everyday moments of hope or life-changing experiences. Submissions of up to 1,000 words can be made in English, Scots or Gaelic in any form, such as a written story, poem, comic strip, play or letter. Audio and video formats are also welcomed.

Stories should be submitted by 7 June 2024 via or by post to: Scotland’s Stories, Scottish Book Trust, Sandeman House, Trunk’s Close, 55 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR.

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