As we race towards the end of the year and the Christmas season, there are even more brand-new reads than usual arriving in bookshops
New releases are especially appealing for prolific young readers, who like to discover new authors and series.
And if you’re choosing a book as a gift, it’s often safest to go for something ‘brand new’, which the recipient is less likely to already own or have read.
Here’s a round-up of some of the October children’s novels the Better Reading team are most looking forward to sharing with the kids we know.
Click on the titles or cover images below to find out more about each book or purchase a copy.
Totally Weird – This is the fifth in Anh Do’s popular WeirDo series. We’ve already bought a copy as a present for a nine-year-old family member, because we know he really enjoys the the humour and school setting. And, while it’s an affordable paperback edition, it looks a bit ‘special’, because of the two-colour ink throughout the book (black and neon green) and the clever lenticular cover.
Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief – Whether she’s tackling history or fantasy or adventure, for younger or older readers, we always enjoy Catherine Jinks’ writing style. With its combination of strong characters, tense adventure, supernatural elements and a rich historical setting, A Very Unusual Pursuit was one of our favourite Jinks novels, and this new series and character promises some of the same elements – plus spies!
How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury – We know several fans of this series (and several parents who enjoy reading it aloud!). Again, this new instalment in the series looks great and will make a lovely gift – it’s nice and thick, there are illustrations and graphics throughout, and the cover is really striking with a shiny, foiled effect.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated edition – While the Harry Potter novels are far from new, this is the first-ever fully-illustrated edition, and it’s really handsome! We know a couple of boys who are just old enough to start the Harry Potter series, and while we want them to experience the joy of reading the novels and imagining Rowling’s magical world for themselves, we think reading this edition of the first book aloud might be a lovely way to start. (By the way, you can read more about what was involved in creating this Harry Potter illustrated edition in our article here .)
Olive of Groves – we haven’t read Katrina Nannestad before, but her Red Dirt series has been well-reviewed and recommended. This new book ticks so many boxes: it’s a boarding school novel. It has a great premise (a girl who finds herself at a school for boys, talking animals and circus performers). The illustrations look terrific. And the wonderful author Judith Rossell recommends it. We can’t resist!
Grandpa’s Great Escape – David Walliams is now one of the most popular children’s authors in Australia as well as his native UK. While other kids delight in them, some of his other books have been just a little bit ‘dark’ for the tastes of the kids we know. But we think this one will really hit the spot: it’s a gentle portrait of the relationship between a boy and his granddad, with plenty of laughs, too. And it’s a ‘fat’ book, so we’re looking forward to many satisfying hours of reading aloud
Freddy Tangles: Legend or Loser – We’ve read a little of the original, self-published edition of Freddy Tangles and think the Australian voice and blend of humour and serious themes will really appeal to some of the eight- and nine-year-olds we know. Author Jack Brand (a high school librarian from Sydney) is now working with publisher Allen & Unwin on a whole series of Freddy books. The very clever Tom Jellett is illustrating them.
It’s a really big month for humorous, illustrated novels for young readers! So, just a quick mention of two others: Danny Best Full On is the first in a new series by Jen Storer – we’re fans of Storer’s Truly Tan books so are keen to give this a try, too. And Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection is the fourth book in Stephen Pastis’ hit series –we’ve been planning to introduce some young friends to these books, because we so love the character of Timmy, who is humorously oblivious to much of what’s going on around him and brimming with unjustified self-confidence, but has an absolute heart of gold and wants to solve his family’s financial struggles.
The Marvels – This one is a very special gift for real book lovers. Brian Selznick’s books are never straight-forward narratives but they’re always wonderful objects. This one blends two narratives – one told entirely in pictures, and a second, set 200 years later, told in words – with haunting links between the two.
Author Selznick explains more about the book in this video: https://youtu.be/IVVFMauECZ4
Have you and your kids recently discovered a wonderful new book or author? Please tell us about it in comments.
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See also: our list of the brand-new picture books we’re most looking forward to sharing.