This year’s Independent Booksellers Week (IBW) takes place from 28th June-5th July – a true celebration of independent bookshops nationwide and the important part they play in their communities, plus their excellent personal service and in-depth knowledge on a whole range of genres. Independent Book Week gives parents the perfect chance to help their children discover more about their local bookshop – there are some fantastic offers from publishers exclusively available for IBW in independent bookshops around the UK, as well as a whole range of events for children during the week – check out your local independent bookshop to see what they are planning.
Mumsnet Local’s guide to Norfolk booksellers
Mumsnet Local’s guide to Suffolk booksellers
HarperCollins are producing a collectible edition of The Classic Adventures of Paddington by Michael Bond, exclusively available for independent booksellers
Piccadilly press are producing a limited edition, signed copy of New York Times bestseller Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, exclusively for IBW – the story of 12 year old genius Willow Chance
In addition, there will be lots of support in independent bookshops around the UK for the shortlisted entries and the winners of the IBW Book Award, which features both a Children’s Fiction and Children’s Picture Book categories.
To celebrate IBW, we’ve asked some expert children’s independent booksellers to provide short reviews of their favourite books to keep children of all ages occupied this summer. Please see their recommended reads.
PICTURE BOOK – TOO SMALL FOR MY BIG BED, Amber Stewart & Layn Marlow, OU Press, £6.99
Piper, the tiger cub, can do lots of things all by himself during the day but at bedtime he wants his mummy by his side. This lovely book reinforces the message that a parent’s love is always there, even when you can’t see them. With charming illustrations, this is a comforting bedtime story for toddlers everywhere.
3-5 YEAR OLDS – UP FOR THE CUP, Simon Bartram, Templar Publishing, £6.99
This is a wonderfully wacky book containing a highly amusing football tale, footie facts and characters to spot. Its real appeal, however, lies in the amazingly detailed illustrations with extraordinarily expressive characters and a double page goal celebration spread. A real treat for young football fans, my favourite of the current crop.
5-8 YEAR OLDS – DIXIE O’DAY-IN THE FAST LANE, Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy, £5.99
An eye-catching new series for young readers. Dixie the dog and his best friend Percy enter the Didsworth to Dodsworth all day race but will they be pipped to the post by arch enemy Lou Ella? This is a beautifully designed book with bold red, black and white illustrations and a chapter for each night of the week.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – THE BLOOD GUARD, Carter Roy, Scholastic, £7.99
Thirteen year old Ronan Truelove discovers, to his dismay, that he’s a member of The Blood Guard, protectors of the world’s thirty six truly good souls known as the “Pure”. He’s subsequently swept up in a rollercoaster adventure with engaging characters, witty dialogue and intense action. This is a real page–turner.
TEEN and YA – WE WERE LIARS, E Lockhart, Hot Key Books, £7.99
An extraordinary story that will draw you in and astound you. When beautiful and privileged Cadence bangs her head in an accident she is unable to remember anything about how it happened. Nobody, including her cousins and fellow “liars” will enlighten her. A truly gripping story with haunting and sinister undertones that build to an unexpectedly shocking conclusion.
PICTURE BOOK – THE PICNIC, John Burningham, Red Fox, £6.99 Boy and Girl set off in glorious sunshine in search of a perfect picnic spot. En route they meet some curious animals and get chased by a lively bull. This delightful picture book, complete with misplaced objects for the reader to find and culminating in a peaceful bedtime, is perfect for sharing with a small child ahead of a summer nap.
AGE 3-5 – THE DARK, Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, Orchard Books, £6.99
The long summer days are the perfect time to dispel fears of the distant dark and this thoughtful picture book offers children a gentle opportunity to explore – and allay – their own anxieties. Lyrically written and beautifully produced, it is a delight for adults as well as young listeners.
5-8 YEAR OLDS – THE TWIN GIANTS, Dick King-Smith, illustrated by Mini Grey, Walker Books, £4.99
This very welcome reissue brings together a much-loved author and a favourite illustrator in a tale of marauding (but nevertheless loveable) giants in search of understanding wives. Great to pack for a family holiday as all the family will enjoy listening to it read aloud, while newly fluent readers will relish managing it on their own.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – FLORA AND ULYSSES, Kate Di Camillo, Walker Books, £6.99
Flora is passionate about comics, but cynical about life. This doesn’t lead to a great relationship with her romance-writing mother, and things can only get worse when Flora takes up with a super hero squirrel. Joyful, quirky and full of vibrant characters and laugh-out loud moments it’s a wonderful book to curl up with and enjoy.
TEEN and YA – WAR GIRLS, Anthology, Andersen Press, £6.99
With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I this summer, our teenage readers are eager to read about wartime life. These absorbing and powerful stories, written by some of Britain’s greatest contemporary YA writers, present a vivid and moving picture of life for young woman growing up in the Great War.
PICTURE BOOK – YIG AND YOG THE HAPPY CATS, Lindsay Camp and Lucy Chesher, Walker Books, £6.99
Yig and Yogg are delightfully entertaining and (despite their questionable fashion sense) they gently introduce early learning concepts, throughout this hilarious and quirky tale. A great choice for the summer months to encourage role play and outdoor activities. A big thumbs-up for ‘Flower Power’.
AGE 3-5 – SOMETHING DIFFERENT, Jill Lewis & Ali Pye, Egmont, £6.99
Introducing the ‘Little Somethings’, a gang of friendly creatures who amble about their moomin-like landscape discovering and playing. It’s Nonty the 9th and Bob is not playing stargazing bingo, he is doing something different…a sweet story about concentrating on what we have in common rather than fearing our differences.
5-8 YEAR OLDS – SECRETS OF THE SEASHORE, Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner, Ivy Press, £10.99
An enchanting and child-friendly introduction to the ‘Secrets’ of the Seashore. A perfect choice to read before, during or after a day sprotting about by the sea. The ‘Shine –A-Light’ pages add excitement and an interactive element which will delight readers of all ages. If you enjoy this, look out for ‘Secrets of the Apple Tree’ too.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – WILD BOY, Rob Lloyd Jones, Walker Books, £6.99
A rollicking journey through Victorian London’s grimy underbelly; Wild Boy will delight confident readers who enjoy a suspenseful mystery and vivid historical setting. With a great cast of characters Wildboy is a terrific summer read for boys and girls alike. Our junior book club loved it!
TEEN and YA – THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER, Leslye Walton, Walker Books, £12.99
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is written in such a captivating style, with a heavy dose of magical realism at the centre of it. Strange and beautiful are the perfect words to describe this story.
PICTURE BOOK – ZEKI LOVES BABY CLUB, Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson, Alanna Books, £7.99
Bright and bold illustrations and simple text celebrate a baby’s day as he goes in his buggy to meet with his friends and their carers to have fun together playing a variety of games before finishing with a cuddle and a story. A lovely celebration of our vibrantly multi-cultural society.
AGE 3-5 – THE HANS AND MATILDA SHOW, yokococo, Templar, £6.99
Second appearance for the little girl who disguises herself as the naughtier Hans, here creating chaos in the guise of her alter-ego at the school talent show. It all comes right in the end when Matilda herself makes a magical reappearance and saves the day. A fun and subversive page turner!
5-8 YEAR OLDS – MY HEART IS LAUGHING, Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson, Gecko Press, 7.99
After her best friend Eva suddenly moves away Dani is determined not to give up her friend’s seat in class in case she should return. This is a delightful tale of enduring friendship and a child overcoming adversity with charming illustrations which perfectly compliment the text and enhance the storytelling.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – THE LION OF SOLE BAY, Julia Jones, Golden Duck, £7.99
Julia Jones takes her inspiration from the stories of Arthur Ransome and gives them a thoroughly modern twist. With an atmospheric Suffolk setting this is a tale that recalls a major sea battle of the Seventeenth century and brings together three very different children in a gripping tale of adventure.
TEEN and YA – VANGO BOOK ONE: BETWEEN SKY AND EARTH, Timothee De Fombelle, Walker Books, 7.99 The first book in a new series from France begins with one of my favourite opening chapters as Vango Romano makes an exhilarating escape from his pursuers through Notre Dame Cathedral. The pace never slackens as our hero seeks truth and justice in an adventure which takes him around the world.
PICTURE BOOK – ORION AND THE DARK, Emma Yartlett, Templar Books, £11.99
Incredible illustration and seriously stylish design come together in this gentle story of overcoming fear of the dark. Little Orion tries everything not to be scared, so when Dark offers to come down and play, Orion is brave and instead of being afraid he ends up finding a special friend.
AGE 3-5 – CHICKEN CLICKING, Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, Andersen Press, £11.99
Willis writes the best picture book texts in the business and here she’s paired up again with illustration heavyweight and long-time collaborator Tony Ross. This clever cautionary tale highlights the potential dangers of internet friendships but it is the witty rhyme and wickedly funny story that make Chicken Clicking sing.
5-8 YEAR OLDS – GO WELL, ANNA HIBISCUS!, Atinuke, Walker Books, £4.99 A fabulous little series for developing readers, Atinuke’s stories are full of life, colour and character. This time Anna is visiting the African village her grandparents grew up in where she makes new friends and learns more about her culture. Anna Hibiscus is a charming creation who deserves a bigger audience.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – THE DRAGONFLY POOL, Eva Ibbotson, Macmillan,
The late Eva Ibbotson wrote children’s fiction of the very highest quality. Re-jacketed for a new audience, The Dragonfly Pool is a school story with a difference -Tally is a spirited young girl who befriends a lonely Prince as his kingdom is threatened by the rise of Hitler. Immersive and glorious, an altogether joyful reading experience.
TEEN and YA – MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE, Robin Stevens, Random House, £6.99
This gleeful murder mystery uses all the tropes of its boarding school setting to create a deliciously traditional romp introducing a series that is sure to garner many fans. A corpse has been found in the gym and the Wells & Wong Detective Agency are on the case. Splendid stuff.
PICTURE BOOK – THE ODD ONE OUT, Britta Teckentrup, Big Picture Press, £10.99 This is a modern, unusual and wholly absorbing spot-the-difference book, with classy illustrations, which demands you seek out the hidden surprises lurking in the pictures. A sophisticated rhyming text provides the clues. This fantastic title is best for parents and children to share and see who can spot the differences first.
AGE 3-5 – HOW TOM BEAT CAPTAIN NAJORK AND HIS HIRED SPORTSMAN, Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake, Walker Books, £12.00
I have been selling books for over 40 years and in that time I have seen many gems fall out of print, so I was delighted to see this book has been re-issued as a hardback. Our here Tom loves to fool around; much to the consternation of Aunt who sends for Captain Najork to teach him a lesson. Various zany challenges ensue, from which Tom emerges triumphant and decides to change his lifestyle. It is nonsense which makes a lot of sense to fidgety five year olds.
8-11 YEAR OLDS – THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE, Elizabeth Goudge, Lion Children’s Books, £10.99
This Modern classic is perfect for children from 9 onwards with an interest in people. Goudge’s characters embody all aspects of human nature and give an insightful look at the impact of human actions on future generations. This imaginative title offers pure escapism into a beautifully described world. The current edition has the original illustrations from C. Walter Hodge (1946) and stunning endpapers decorated with plans and maps.
TEEN and YA – NEVERENDING, Martyn Bedford, Walker Books, £7.99
Shiv has reluctantly agreed to become a voluntary inmate of a controversial clinic that forces teenagers to recognize the consequences of their actions and help them to come to terms with the resulting guilt. Like any enclosed community frictions abound but the plot races along, skilfully unfolding into a dramatic ending. Martin Bedford’s previous book, Flip was greatly enjoyed and he has pulled off the difficult second novel with great success.