September has been a fantastic, very busy month for children's publishing. Led by the paperback release of Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage, the return of Kes Gray and Jim Field in the ever-growing Oi! series, and not to mention the release of my personal favourite The Restless Girl by Jessie Burton. All this with Halloween on the horizon, a moment that is fast becoming my favourite in the children's bookselling calendar.
Here's a round up of some of my favourites out this month!
Picture books have taken the stage this September, and these are only a few that have come out! My September highlight was definitely from the bestselling author and illustrator Francesa Sanna's and her follow up picture book to The Journey - Me and my Fear. Here we see the young girl from The Journey in a new country and a new school and the power and impact that 'fear' has on her. Fear itself takes on the form of a creature, which can be small enough to fit in a pocket, or big enough to overwhelm a page. This is a relevant, compassionate and heart-warming story, with distinctive and beautiful illustrations. The Dam by David Almond, illustrated by Levi Pinfold, is also an exceptionally captivating and soulful picture book, that tells the tale of musicians playing for the last time at a valley that is slowly flooded by a great dam. Almond beautifully pays homage to all musicians, showing the ancient and unstoppable power of creativity.
On the other side of the spectrum comes the fourth hilarious tale from the award-winning creator of The Queen's Hat, The Queen's Handbag and The Queen's Present, Steve Antony, in The Queen's Lift-Off. A perfect tie in with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 2019, Antony takes us on witty and wonderful whirlwind royal tour of space. Daddy's Hairdo was also a personal favourite of mine this September. I'm a big fan of Claire Powell's illustrations and it was a joy to see Powell besides a debut children's author Francis Martin in this hilarious and innovative story. Perfect for anyone who has ever had to tangle with a head full of hair!
Special hardbacks. Gift editions. Beautiful covers. Don't these books just make you so excited for Christmas! Especially the new, winter special, Isadora Moon! I'm a massive fan of the half vampire, half fairy, totally unique Isadora Moon series and it was a joy to join her on another adventure. A beautiful, charming, and funny book, with irresistible pink and black artwork throughout. Also, blue-haired heroine Hilda has gone to the top of my list this September with the upcoming Netflix series (which I'm very excited about)! Hilda is an explorer, adventurer and friend to almost very creature in a valley inhabited by giants, elves and trolls. Originally graphic novels, this is Hilda's first foray into novels with fresh content and new illustrations. A perfect book for 6 plus reluctant readers to get lost in.
The children's middle grade sector has seen a lot of sequels this September - the second instalment of A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan has hit our shelves with a stunning autumnal cover; Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell follows the Blue Peter Book Award winner The Wizards of Once; The Beasts of Grimheart is the third instalment of Podkin One-Ear's epic battles and adventures; and Jacob Sager Weinstein's historical adventure books continue in The City of Guardian Stones.
But with sequels also comes debuts and Anna James' Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanders is a perfectly charming one. Hooked around the stuff of booklovers' dreams, Tilly finds that she can wander into the pages of stories, including Alice in Wonderland's and Anne of Green Gabel's stories. Determined to find the truth behind her mother's disappearance, Tilly is about to embark of one unforgettable journey. As I mentioned though, Jessie Burton's The Restless Girls was my highlight this September. I've been awaiting a long time to get my hands on this book and now it's finally here! Illustrated by the one and only Angela Barrett, The Restless Girls is a dazzlingly beautiful feminist fairy-tale retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Burton takes on a charmingly modern twist to the classic tale and forefronts family, sisterhood, imagination and bravery to this unforgettable tale.
A Winter's Promise by Christelle Dabos was an exciting title to encounter this September. A huge bestseller in France, Hildegarde Serle has done a brilliant job in translating this fantasy YA tale to English. The first volume in 'The Mirror Visitor Quartet, A Winter's Promise is a highly original, and intricately imagined fantasy novel, where objects are read like books, people can travel through mirrors and where the world in shattered into many floating celestial islands. In an enchanting hardback edition this will make a perfect gift this Christmas for any young adult reader. This book has been well reviewed by many critics and is reminiscent of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. Speaking of Philip Pullman, if you've been living under a rock and haven't read volume one of The Book of Dust yet then it's out now in paperback! Philip Pullman - The Lord of Dust, creator of daemons and spinner of the finest fairy tales - is one of the world’s greatest and most influential storytellers, and I cannot even begin in recommending his books enough.
In this Rebel Girl Generation, Nevertheless She Persisted by Jon Walter is a must read. This poignant and interesting story looks at the Suffragette struggle from the point of view of two sisters on opposing sides of the movement. Praised from the Sunday Times as an 'epic, vivid, emotionally involving, thought-provoking novel from a writer of distinction,' this is a book that will leave you lost for words.
Gift and Poetry
It's National Poetry Day on the 4th October and children's poetry has never looked better. Poetry is booming at the moment and children's poetry in particularly has seen a considerate growth. And that's not surprising from the recent poetry collections that have been published this month. Fiona Waters I Am The Seed That Grew a Tree is an outstanding poetry anthology and praised as a 'real hymn to nature'. Award winning Waters has selected a nature poem for everyday of the year in this beautiful hardback book. With full colour illustrations by rising star Frann Preston-Gannon this is a book to share, educate, entertain and treasure.
Another highlight in this sector for me this September was from the wonderful Katherine Rundell. Rundell has already transported us to the snow-laden forests of a Russian winter, to the rooftops of Victorian Paris, and most recently to the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Now, Rundell takes us to the Indian jungle for a collection of origin stories from Rudyard Kipling's best loved characters from The Jungle Book. Perfect for children aged seven plus, these are unforgettable tales of friendship, bravery and jungle lore. The lush and captivating bold illustrations from Kristjana Williams, best known for Wide-Eyed Editions' The Wonder Garden, makes this an exceptional gift book.
Peace, mindfulness and the good guys, with a side of beetles! Children's non-fiction is booming in this rebel girls age and these are just a few of the September non-fiction releases. Peace and Me is a beautiful collection of ideas on the topic of peace inspired by the achievements of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Endorsed by Amnesty International this is a very relevant and important book of our time. In Happy by Nicola Edwards comes a gentle and accessible picture book style introduction to the concept of mindfulness for children. This subject is getting a lot more attention in the children's book market, particularly in schools, and this book makes for a perfect starter to learn about calmness and mindfulness, but above all, happiness.
M G Leonard is back with her very famous beetles in this stunning collector's handbook. A non-fiction introduction to all things entomological with links to the original fiction books, Leonard goes from scary to weird to beautiful with over 60 notes and annotations on jaw-droppingly gorgeous species. From science to space, Welcome to the Museum is back with another spectacular addition to this bestselling series in Planetarium. This visually stunning book explores the wonders of space, from our own Solar System to the Milky Way and beyond.
I hope you enjoyed my September book round-up. Happy reading Bluebirds!
© 2018 Bluebird Reviews