A fabulous haul of ripping yarns
The best children’s books this year offered high adventure, innocent pleasure and some fun facts. By Emily Bearn
Has children’s fiction become too glum? That was the view of the judges of this year’s Branford Boase Award, who complained that children’s novelists were spurning adventure stories for “claustrophobic” domestic dramas. But this year’s highlights reveal a much jollier literary scene, with a feast of uplifting new picture books and rip-roaring thrillers. World War. Hughes’s familiar drawings poignantly contrast the charms of the VE Day celebrations (“the delicious sandwiches, cake and even chocolate biscuits!”) with the devastation of the Blitz. At 95, Judith Kerr – author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea – is also still firing on all cylinders. Her latest,
(HarperCollins, £12.99), is a teasing observation of modern parenting, featuring a mother glued to her phone.
For animal lovers,
(Hodder, £12.99) by Cressida Cowell tells of a stray cat who soothes her kittens’ hunger by teaching them the value of courage; and
(Thames and Hudson, £10.95) by Gabby Dawnay, in jaunty rhyming couplets, depicts a grey mouse who sets out to discover the world: “I was born in this tree – now it’s time to explore/ All the nooks and the crannies from forest to shore!”
Mummy Time Tantrum O’Furrily The Story of A House for Mouse The Elephant that Ate the Night
(Everything With Words, £7.99) by Bing Bai is the cautionary tale of an elephant who gobbles up the night, ideal for those scared of the dark.