Aamong the picture books this month, We will find the monster! (Puffin, Â£ 6.99) by Malorie Blackman and Dapo Adeola stands out. A seditious reinterpretation of the family home as a dangerous fantasy landscape follows two little explorers on a monster hunt before breakfast and finds a terrible tickle (sleeping older brother) in his hiding place. Words and pictures are full of lively mischief and intergenerational warmth.
The imagination is also all the rage Constancy in danger (Two Hoots, Â£ 12.99) by Ben Manley and Emma Chichester Clark. Edward’s favorite toy Constance keeps getting in trouble until his big sister saves her from thieving dogs, bestial tyrants, a reed-like river … Manley’s gothic, dry text harmonizes wonderfully with the autumnal images of Chichester Clark.
Meanwhile, Eoin McLaughlin and Ross Collins Inspector Penguin investigates (Hachette Â£ 6.99) is pure slapstick delight. If Baron von Buffetworth’s diamond is stolen from his safe, who better to recover than Inspector Penguin – if only he can stop being distracted by fish. Complicated, captivating scenes and a plot worthy of Agatha Christie.
For 7+ readers, Grimmholz (Simon & Schuster, Â£ 12.99) is a first foray into the full-length fiction of celebrated picture book creator Nadia Shireen. Forced to flee the big city after alienating the boss street cat Princess Buttons, fox pups Ted and Nancy seek refuge in Grimwood, full of Thespian ducks, murderous eagles and squirrels obsessed with a game called Treebonk . Could that Yes, really become their new home? It’s hysterically crazy, especially the illustrations.
Trivia fans will enjoy it Everything under the sun (Ladybird, Â£ 25), based on Molly Oldfield’s popular podcast, which answers a selection of 366 questions from why baboons have bare bums to the most dangerous things in the desert. It shows the advantages of careful research while remaining exciting and legible and is colorfully illustrated by Momoko Abe and Richard Jones, among others.
From debut author and illustrator Flora Delargy, Rescue the Titanic (Wide-Eyed, Â£ 14.99) is a tour de force – a gripping account of the sinking of the Titanic and the rescue mission of the Carpathia, told in economical, well-considered texts and delicate but powerful illustrations. Vignettes of the crew and passengers evoke both individual stories and the extent of the tragedy.
Readers 8+ who like big, haunting fantasy will love Aisling Fowler’s Born in fire (HarperCollins, Â£ 12.99), the story of the friendless, indomitable twelve who promised their lives, names, and formidable martial arts to the hunters who keep the peace of the clans. But Twelve has a dark secret – and when a surprise attack on the Jagdschloss forces her on a rescue mission, she may have to reveal it in this atmospheric, fast-paced debut.
Julia and the shark (Hachette, Â£ 12.99) is a poignant collaboration between writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave and artist Tom de Freston. Julia’s scientist is determined to find the great Greenland Shark, so the family heads to a remote Shetland island for the summer. Dreamily poetic, full of black depths and starry skies, this story of sadness, love and hope is brightened up with down-to-earth humor.
In the end, The week at the end of the world (Faber) by Emma Carroll shows the queen of the historical novel at her best in a 1960s setting. Almost nothing happens in World’s End Close; When Stevie finds a girl in her coal shed, she and her best friend Ray are excited. But when Anna says she is being followed by poisoners, it gets more serious – as does the news when the US and Russia clash over Cuban missiles. Subtle characterization and a convincing evocation of time and place.
from Laura Bates, Simon & Schuster, â¬ 7.99
Returning from a basketball tour, seven teenagers are stranded on an island after a plane crash. At first, both cheerleaders and the troop focus on first aid and survival – then they realize that a sinister pattern is emerging, that the effects of yesterday’s tour party have haunted them. Exciting, gripping and atmospheric, told from the point of view of the reluctant cheerleader Hayley, this gripping thriller from the founder of Everyday Sexism asks some sharp questions about victim assignment and consent.
from Meg Grehan, â¬ 8.99, Small island
Immy’s existence has spanned centuries, with many lives, many loves; but until Claudia, the girl in the flower shop, she has never loved so much. It’s a unique feeling for Claudia too – she has never loved a vampire. Will Immy stand up to the urge for food? Grehan’s verse skilfully traces uncertainty, temptation, and the course of a strange, desperate love as Immy tries to hold on to Claudia and herself.
Sliver of the sun
from Patrice Lawrence, Hodder, Â£ 6.99
When Spey’s ex-inmate father Benni appears for the first time at Christmas, Spey is anything but enthusiastic. But when he receives a half-ragged flower collage from his girlfriend Dee – which they made together as children – he realizes that she is in trouble, entangled in the world of drug gangs. Maybe Benni can help him track her down … Lively humor and thoughtful depth radiate in this wintry road trip mystery from an award-winning author.