Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels | Fiction

I am NOT a Prince! by Rachael Davis and Beatrix Hatcher.

Baby, Sleepy Baby by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (Walker, £12.99)
This dreamy, unrhymed lullaby for the tiniest listeners is based on a song from the author’s own childhood. Illustrated in soft moonlit tones, it’s filled with smiles, stars and a sense of boundless love.

Monster! Hungry! Phone! by Sean Taylor and Fred Benaglia (Bloomsbury, £6.99)
A starving monster calls multiple wrong numbers – including a jaguar in Nicaragua and a panda called Amanda – in his ill-fated quest for pizza. A shouty, colourful picture-book romp, begging to be read aloud with gusto.

Sign up to our Inside Saturday newsletter for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of the magazine’s biggest features, as well as a curated list of our weekly highlights.

I am NOT a Prince! by Rachael Davis and Beatrix Hatcher (Orchard, £12.99)
Unlike the others in the magic lagoon, Hopp doesn’t want to be turned into a prince; this little frog has another dream. Crisp rhymes and bold illustrations combine in this sweet, satisfying fairytale, challenging gender stereotypes and asserting every frog’s right to choose their own path.

I am NOT a Prince! by Rachael Davis and Beatrix Hatcher.
And illustration from I am NOT a Prince! by Beatrix Hatcher. Photograph: PR

Mike Falls Up by Candy Gourlay, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros (Little Tiger, £5.99)
On a hot day in the Chocolate Hills, Mike and his dog, Bowow, find a crack in the earth and an invitation reading: “Birthday. Come now. Just fall up.” Gourlay’s pared-back text and Ballesteros’ involving images create the absorbing sense of a child’s imagination at play in this splendidly surreal adventure for 5+.

There’s a Dog in My Brain by Caroline Green, illustrated by Rikin Parekh (Walker, £6.99)
Dog-lovers of 6+ with a taste for slapstick will relish this riotous body-swap, in which Danny (boy) and Dudley (dog) switch brains with outrageous consequences, including wedding-cake demolition, unwanted baths and regrettable leg-lifting.

Leonora Bolt, Secret Inventor by Lucy Brandt, illustrated by Gladys Jose (Puffin, £6.99)
Confined to a secret island laboratory by her awful Uncle Luther, Leonora invents a range of crazy devices – until the arrival of a castaway forces her to make a daring escape and a thrilling discovery. A hilariously silly adventure for 7+, full of fishy foodstuffs and ingenious gadgets.

Mike Falls Up by Candy Gourlay, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.
Mike Falls Up by Candy Gourlay, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. Photograph: Carles Ballesteros

Frankie’s World by Aoife Dooley (Scholastic, £8.99)
Frankie has never fitted in. Is it because her dad is not in the picture? Perhaps finding him will provide the answers she craves. Readers eight and older who like quirky, misfit heroes will snap up Dooley’s warm, funny and original graphic novel, drawing on her own experience of growing up autistic.

When the War Came Home by Lesley Parr (Bloomsbury, £6.99)
Natty is sick of her mother getting fired for talking back to bosses – and now they’ve landed up in Ynysfach with Mam’s annoying relatives. When Natty encounters injustice in her new school, though, she finds she is more like Mam than she knew. And when she meets a young soldier who has lost his memory, she may have just the right ideas to help him rediscover his past. For age 9 and up, an assured, thoughtful historical novel with a richly evoked postwar Welsh setting.


Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka (Chicken House, £6.99)
When Jummy wins a place at the prestigious River School, she’s thrilled to be plunged into a world of midnight feasts and fierce sporting competition. But when she finds her best friend, Caro, working there as a maid, she is determined to ensure clever Caro becomes a pupil, too. The traditional girls’ boarding school story is joyously reinvigorated in this riveting Nigerian-set debut.

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman (Hot Key, £8.99)
Ashoka’s economy is based on magic, but magic is running dry. After the maharani is assassinated, her four children are desperate to find the Ivory Key that might restore it – but each of them has their own private plan … Book one of an epic fantasy duology layered with Indian folklore and traditions, Raman’s YA debut deals intriguingly with ideas of power, belonging and temptation.

The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros

The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros (Firefly, £6.99)
Originally published to acclaim in Welsh, this staggering novel collates the alternating accounts of 14-year-old Dylan and his mother, written in the blue notebook of the title. For eight years, ever since the power went out and the old normal disappeared, they’ve worked to survive in the remote village of Nebo. What Mam misses, Dylan has no use for, being perfectly adapted to the new world and his place in it. A tender, tragic post-apocalyptic story, told with great simplicity and power.

The Revelry by Katherine Webber (Walker, £7.99)
The inhabitants of Ember Grove know better than to talk about the Revelry, the ritual end-of-year party that happens in the woods – and Bitsy Clarke, who has lived there all her life, should really know better than to let her best friend, Amy, talk her into gatecrashing. When the girls wake up with new scars, wiped memories, and a weird imbalance of luck, it’s up to Bitsy to discover the truth in this gripping YA fantasy, perfect for fans of Holly Black and Melissa Albert.