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The Waterstones Children's Summer Reading Round-Up

Posted on 29th June 2018 by Martha Greengrass

As we head into holiday time, we round-up our selection of the best new children's summer reading.

Picture Books

2018 has already proved a particularly strong year for new picture books but it’s only right that we begin with a parting gift from one of the genre’s greats. Completed shortly before the author’s death last year, Michael Bond’s last Paddington story, Paddington at St Paul’s, is a fittingly sweet farewell, seeing the little bear from darkest Peru take a special trip to St Paul’s Cathedral (where of course he finds himself a guest performer in the choir). Also putting London’s landmarks on the map is Julia Donaldson’s latest ladybird adventure, What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday. Beautifully colourful panoramas of London, illustrated by artist Lydia Monks, accompany the ladybird detective and her animal friends as they attempt to foil a dastardly plot to steal the crown jewels. We’ve a treat too for Peppa Pig fans, as Waterstones presents an exclusive story, Peppa Goes to Scotland, which follows everyone’s favourite pint-sized piglet as she and her brother George go on their first Scottish holiday. Muddy puddles are a must.

There are hilarious adventures afoot for Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s crowd-pleasing spud hero Supertato in Supertato Veggies in the Valley of Doom, as he and the Veggies find themselves facing fearsome foes in the supermarket jungle, after a game of night time hide-and-seek goes awry. Author and illustrator Ross Collins won over a legion of fans with his very funny rhyming story, There’s a Bear on My Chair, and his latest picture book, This Zoo is Not for You, is an equal delight. Again proving his knack with rhyming couplets it’s got all the catchy, funny repetition of a bedtime favourite; as the Guardian writes, 'his tone is funny but heartfelt and a little bit rock’n’roll… Clearly Collins knows how to throw a good party – young children should find the invitation irresistible'. Beyond the humour it’s a really touching story about tolerance, acceptance and welcoming strangers at its heart, themes that are echoed in what’s a sure contender for the most beautiful picture book of the year, Ross Montgomery’s heartfelt and tender story Space Tortoise. Exquisitely illustrated by The Bear and the Piano’s David Litchfield - every page seems to glow -  this enchanting tale of a lonely tortoise looking for a friend amongst the stars has all the hallmarks of a future classic - we defy adults not to shed a tear or two. 

Space Tortoise

A firm favourite with booksellers and readers alike, bestselling author illustrator talent Oliver Jeffers needs little introduction. His latest, An Alphabet of Stories, is a fresh take on a short-story collection for very young children which lends itself not only to repeated telling but also encouraging children to let their imaginations wander, showing how letters and words go to make up endless new stories.  For slightly older children The Secret of Black Rock is perfectly pitched for three to five-year-olds and wowed the judges of this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize who awarded it the prize in the illustrated book category. Described by the Guardian as a blend of ‘Tove Jansson, Tintin and Japanese anime studio Studio Ghibli’, it combines the flavour of an old-fashioned summer adventure with a shared appreciation of the wonder and mystery of the natural world.

This Zoo is Not For You

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Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Paddington, the much-loved bear from Darkest Peru, with this brand new classic picture book. When Mr Gruber takes Paddington on a special outing to St Paul's Cathedral, there is one surprise after another. But the biggest of all comes when Paddington is mistaken for a choir bear and suddenly finds himself joining the choir for a most unusual rehearsal!
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Join everyone's favourite crime-busting ladybird on holiday and come face to face with some familiar thieves in the third story in the fantastic What the Ladybird Heard series, with glitter on every page.
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Available exclusively from Waterstones, Peppa Goes to Scotland features a glorious glittery blue cover and is a perfect story to introduce very young readers to Scotland. Join everyone’s favourite pint-sized pigs, Peppa and her little brother George, as they take their first Scottish holiday with castles to discover, loch-inhabiting monsters to find and of course, some super muddy puddles!
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Join Supertato, the veggies and a certain Evil Pea on their brand new adventure in the bestselling SUPERTATO series by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet! When a game of hide-and-seek turns into an EPIC treasure hunt, the veggies must face fearsome foes, the impassable Cactus Canyon and the dangerous Valley of DOOM! Will our heroes EVER make it to treasure aisle?
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When a small platypus visits the zoo, the animals all assume he has come about the vacancy and he is taken through a rigorous interview process. But the platypus is far too bland for the chameleons, not nearly graceful enough for the flamingos, and his tricks will never impress the monkeys. So, he leaves. The animals soon regret being so unkind, butt what's this? The platypus has left an invite!
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The alphabet gloriously brought to life by Oliver Jeffers. From an astronaut afraid of heights, to dynamic detectives the Owl and the Octopus, by way of some rusting robots, you will find within this book a short story inspired by every letter of the alphabet. By turns funny, sad and surprising, these entertaining mini-tales are accompanied by Jeffers' witty and inviting illustrations.
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Once, in an old rusty bin in an old rusty playground in an old empty park.. there lived a little tortoise.But Tortoise is lonely. "That must be where the other tortoises are - at the top of the sky! But how can a little tortoise get to the top of the sky? A beautiful, moving and heartwarming tale about bravery, kindness and welcoming strangers.
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The heartening tale of a bright young adventurer who discovers the true nature of a terrifying local legend, and goes to great lengths to protect a kind and misunderstood new friend. ‘Channelling Tove Jansson, Tintin and Studio Ghibli, the book’s enchanting, richly coloured illustrations had details to savour in every frame… a young artist to watch’ – The Guardian
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5 to 8

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a touch of magic and for younger readers there are two brilliant new series that turn traditional fantasy on its head: A kind of Pete’s Dragon with extra giggles, The Boy Who Grew Dragons takes on the rather hair-singeing challenges of finding that your grandad’s garden has suddenly started sprouting fire-breathing mischief-makers and the illustrations by Sara Ogilvie really make it come alive. A brilliantly inventive – and very funny - new take on the mermaid tradition comes in the form of Witch Wars’ author Sibeal Pounder’s Bad Mermaids series. After an opening number that saw the mermaids make a Bonnie and Clyde escape in a stolen clam car, this time around, in Bad Mermaids: On the Rocks, the fish-tailed friends find themselves trapped aboard the spooky ship the Merry Mary with talking (seasick) seahorse Steve on a mission to save the mermaid kingdom. 

Meanwhile, Sam Wu and Barry Loser are back for more action-packed mischief to prove that even the finest calibre fictional heroes have their flaws. Ideal for a summer of World Cup frenzy, Barry Loser is the Best at Football NOT, sees Barry turn manager-extraordinaire – that is if he can keep the talent in line. Katie and Kevin Tsang’s Sam Wu finds he has toothsome trouble to contend with in Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Sharks! Both guarantee laughter aplenty. 

It’s not just the kids getting into trouble either. Fans of Isla Fisher’s bestselling Marge in Charge series will be pleased to hear everyone’s favourite rainbow-haired, thrill-seeking, baddie-busting babysitter is back in Marge and the Secret Tunnel. Marge might meet her match though if she encountered Sophy Henn’s up-to-no-good Bad Nana. The first in a new series, Older Not Wiser is brilliantly irreverent, snort-inducing comic book for young children with a Mr Gum-esque appeal.

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When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandad's garden, he doesn't think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house - and gets the shock and delight of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The first book in a sparky and utterly enchanting new series.
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Mermaids Beattie, Mimi and Zelda, along with Steve the talking seahorse, are trapped aboard the spooky ship the Merry Mary, heading for the legendary (and super-stylish) Crocodile Kingdom. On land, Paris Silkensocks, ice-cream seller and Gadget Queen, has uncovered a plot to destroy the mermaid world.
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Everyone at Barry's school has gone football crazy, but Barry gets thrown out of the team (the Mogden Maniacs) for being completely rubbish. Then it turns out that his best friend Bunky is a super striker - so Barry becomes his manager. The cup final match is approaching and Bunky's getting carried away with his football fame - can Barry keep his head in the game?
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Brilliantly funny new young series about the bravest scaredy-cat in the world Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except when he is). And when a shark TOTALLY tries to eat him at the local aquarium, he decides he's not going to take any more chances. So at his friend's birthday party at the beach, Sam refuses to dip even a toe in the water. Nothing could go wrong now, could it?
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Bad Nana is a deliciously wicked new series for ages six and up, told through the eyes of 8-year-old Jeanie. Gorgeously illustrated throughout with vibrantly coloured spreads, Bad Nana's naughty exploits will shock and appal - and make you snort with laughter!
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Life with Marge is NEVER boring! She has rainbow hair, goes skiing in the middle of summer and is the best babysitter anyone could wish for. And maybe - just maybe - Marge can help Jemima and Jakey work out who (or what) is at the end of the secret tunnel. The fourth fun family story in the Marge in Charge series, written by Isla Fisher and illustrated throughout by Eglantine Ceulemans.
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9-12

No children’s reading round-up would be complete, of course, without mention of the titanic talent that is David Walliams. 2018 marks a decade of Walliams’s writing and amongst the highlights of this year’s new offerings is The World of David Walliams Book of Stuff, an insider's guide, activity book and fact-file rolled into one that’s perfect for fans. 

Elsewhere, there are two stories of heroes with big shoes to fill, the first coming from David Solomons in the form of the latest in his much-loved anti-hero series, My Arch-Enemy is a Brain in a Jar. When Luke finds himself with his brother, Zach’s, powers, he thinks he’ll finally he’ll get the chance to defeat a world-threatening evil genius the easy way. But mastering superhero powers proves slightly trickier than Luke first imagined and then there’s a megalomaniac brain in a jar to contend with… That’s nothing to the challenge 12-year-old Ajay faces though. The star of political cartoonist-turned author Tom McLaughlin’s latest novel, The Accidental President, Ajay finds a family holiday takes an interesting turn when he’s sworn in as the next President of the USA. Smart, sharply written and packed full of fascinating political information in the mix, it’s as educational as it is highly entertaining.

Nature lovers will fall in love with Sylvia V. Lindsteadt’s The Wild Folk which combines all the author’s experience as an ecologist and naturalist in a fable that’s rich in description and has a gently affecting message about human responsibility to preserve the environment. Vivid descriptions of landscape also help bring to life bestselling author Lauren St John’s latest novel Kat Wolfe Investigates. A classic outdoorsy children’s detective story in the vein of The Famous Five, it’s fast-paced and neatly plotted and includes an array of fantastic animals to boot.

Fantasy fiction for children doesn’t come more original than Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor. Shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, it’s a quirky tale of cursed-child Morrigan Crow as she faces the trials of the enchanted city of Nevermoor. Described by the Daily Mail as, ‘a must for the next Harry Potter generation’ this is a series and an author to watch. Taking a darker turn, there’s old-fashioned sorcery at work in Cressida Cowell’s impressive new series, The Wizards of Once. Packed full of ancient mythical creatures and echoing the spine-tingling power of Susan Cooper and Alan Garner, it’s a story that opens up a whole new world of fairy-tale promise.

Taking a walk on the strange side, stories just don’t come any weirder – or more wonderful – than Nicki Thorton’s The Last Chance Hotel, where oppressed kitchen boy Seth finds himself at the centre of a locked-room murder mystery. Full of unexpected twists and turns and black humour – think Cluedo for kids, with added supernatural shenanigans and cookery – it’s very good indeed. 

Then we turn to two very different stories that tackle growing up and learning to find out who you really are. Newly republished by Penguin, Sylvia Waugh’s The Mennyms – about a family of life-size rag dolls trying to remain hidden in the real world – remains a justified classic, witty, moving and gently, sadly wise there will be many readers delighted to see it rightly back in print. Soon to be released, and hailed by Jacqueline Wilson as 'a much-needed book that will strike a chord with so many girls - and help them dare to be different', Splash by Charli Howard is the story of Molly, a girl with dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Focusing on the difficult struggle to hold on to what makes you different amidst the lure of peer-pressure and the pull of popularity, it’s a novel full of heart with important messages about body-positivity and the importance of friendship.

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Welcome to The World of David Walliams. This spectacularly funny book is bursting with Walliams wonderment! Insider sneak peeks, brilliant character quizzes, fabulous fun facts, design your own Walliams book cover and meet Raj in a brand new comic book adventure never seen before. You even get exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content from David Walliams himself.
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Luke and his brother have swapped bodies by accident. Zack's got Luke's weird feet while Luke has Zack's SUPERPOWERS! Now he needs another world-threatening adventure to try them out. Could a family mini-break at Great Minds Leisure Park be his chance? Probably, because that's where his super-clever arch-enemy lurks, fermenting dastardly plans and bubbling gently.
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On a visit to the US things take a strange turn for 12-year-old Ajay when, completely at random and totally by accident, he is sworn in as the new president. Well, I guess he can't be any worse than that guy who had the job before him, right?
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When Tin, an orphan City boy with a passion for invention, and curious Country girl Comfrey are visited by two young hares, it is the start of a magical quest. To stop the City from ravaging the Country, they must complete seemingly impossible challenges set by the mystical Wild Folk to find the one who holds the secret to saving their world.
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Join brave Kat Wolfe and her animal sidekicks in this first mysterious adventure filled with friendship, freedom and a fierce wild cat! Kat Wolfe loves her new home in idyllic Bluebell Bay, especially as it comes with a resident wildcat. But when she starts pet-sitting for pocket money, she finds that beneath the town's perfect surface lie some dark and dangerous secrets.
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Enter the Wundrous world of Nevermoor - the most fantastical children's series of the year. Morrigan Crow is cursed, doomed to die on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears, he takes her to the magical city of Nevermoor, to contend for a place in the the Wundrous Society - but can Morrigan pass the tests?
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From the bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon comes an exciting high-adventure series - set in an ancient, magical time, full of Wizards, Warriors, Giants and Sprites. This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.
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Seth is the oppressed kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel. But when a strange gathering of magicians arrives for dinner, their leader is poisoned. A locked-room murder investigation ensues - and Seth is the main suspect. Can he solve the mystery and clear his name, especially when magic's afoot?
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From the outside, 5 Brocklehurst Grove looks like an ordinary house. And from the inside, to hear the voices of the inhabitants, the Mennym family, you would think they were a perfectly ordinary family, too. But you'd be wrong, for the Mennyms are far from ordinary. The whole family shares an astonishing secret; a secret to which nobody has ever come close - until perhaps, now.
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Molly is in her final year of primary school, with secret dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer. Splash is a hugely exciting debut with a classic underdog story, a wonderfully relatable protagonist, and an important message of friendship, body positivity, and celebrating who you are.
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Teen

A book that has come to define the current moment, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give has become a global phenomenon winning both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal. Written in the turbulent wake of police violence in North America and written with wit, life and passion, The Hate U Give is an immediate 21st century classic that’s a must-read. It comes alongside some worthy thriller companions though, including Tom Pollock’s unpredictable and pacey drama White Rabbit, Red Wolf. A novel of friendship, maths and mental illness, as the Times writes, ‘This novel has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but it is unlike anything else you have read… it is revelatory about mental health, ingeniously constructed and a thrilling ride for sophisticated readers.' Meanwhile, packed with urgency and nail-biting tension, Nikesh Shukla’s Run, Riot is a gripping story of twins Taran and Hari who find themselves on the run, looking to uncover a conspiracy around their tower block home. A novel of corruption, power and community that couldn’t be timelier.

From urban action to psychological thrillers: split between two stories, seventeen years apart, All These Beautiful Strangers is a cleverly constructed novel of unexplained disappearances and sinister ‘it’ crowd alliances. Dark and infused with the aura of elite New England society, it’s a kind of teen Secret History that’s ideal summer reading. There’s more uneasiness in Julia Gray’s impressive, Patricia Highsmith inspired Little Liar, which gives puts readers into the hands of the ultimate unreliable narrator for a story that never lets you stay too long on stable ground - it’s nail-biting stuff.

When it comes to summer romances, they don’t come better than French author Clementine Beauvais’s newly translated In Paris With You, which brings together two people ten years after they nearly – but not quite – fell in love. Beauvais won over a host of readers with her novel Piglettes last year and this follow-up has all the same winning charm. Seductive, sexy and genuinely romantic, it’s a novel to have you sighing your way down the Champs Elysees – or at least imagining you are.

Lastly, we’ve two novels that echo present fears and disasters yet to come, taking us from cyberpunk noir to a sinister future dystopia. The author of the Legend series, Marie Lu’s latest world-vision takes readers deep into the heart of internet game sensation Warcross, where hacker and bounty hunter Emika Chen finds herself drawn into a dangerous underbelly of corruption and vice that’s anything but a game. The result is a smart and immersive alternative cyberthriller that’s perfect for fans of Ready Player One. There’s everything at stake too in The Survival Game by Scottish author Nicky Singer, a novel set in an all-too frighteningly imaginable world, laid to waste by environmental disaster and global food shortages. As 14-year-old Mhairi attempts to make her way home to Scotland from Sudan, she is forced to accept that what she thinks of as home may be changed beyond all recognition. A tense and compelling story that asks readers to question what it means to be a refugee and reflects on the significance of basic human compassion in a world defined by power, it’s hard to think of a novel more relevant and necessary for our times.

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A powerful and brave YA novel about what prejudice looks like in the 21st century. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.
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A taut thriller about murder, maths and the mind. Peter Blankman is afraid of everything and must confront unimaginable terror when his mother is attacked.
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From the editor of The Good Immigrant, an adrenaline-fuelled, powerful YA thriller about alienation, gentrification and community.
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Charlie Calloway has a life most people would kill for. A tight knit family. A loyal set of friends. A fast-track to whichever college she chooses. But Charlie isn't interested in what most people want. She's a Calloway. She's special. And she's been taught to want more. The perfect summer beach read, for fans of Cruel Intentions, The Secret History and One of Us is Lying.
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Nora has lied about many things. Nora decides to teach him a lesson he won't forget. Bel is unpredictable, jealous and crazy, but she opens up a new world for Nora, and that makes her irresistible. As events start to spin wildly out of control, Nora must decide where her loyalties lie - and what deceits she can get away with.
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Because their story didn't end at the right time, because they let their feelings go to waste, it was written, I think, that Eugene and Tatiana would find each other years later, one morning in winter on the Paris metro. Eugene and Tatiana could have fallen in love. If things had gone differently. But time has found them far apart, leading separate lives. Until they meet once more in Paris.
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Mhairi Anne Bain owns only two things: a gun with no bullets and her identity papers. The world is a shell of what it once was. Now, you must prove yourself worthy of existence at every turn, at every border checkpoint. And if you are going to survive, your instincts will become your most valuable weapon. In a world of checkpoints and controls, can love and hope defy the borders?
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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn't just a game - it's a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she's convinced she'll be arrested, and is shocked when she gets a call from the game's creator with an irresistible offer.
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