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8 of the best children’s books for summer 2023

8 of the best children’s books for summer 2023

Schools out for summer and with over a month of long, lazy days ahead, the kids will need plenty of books to keep them occupied. We’ve collected some of our favourite children’s, middle grade and teen titles from the year so far. The stories span fantasy, adventure, mythology, history and contemporary comedy, promising something to entertain every young reader.

All Four Quarters of The Moon by Shirley Marr

Peijing’s whole life has been uprooted. Her family have moved to Australia and everything is different. She has a new home, a new school, a new language, and the adults around her are struggling to adjust. Peijing must be strong for her little sister, Biju, but it’s difficult for a child to deal with the uncertainties of life when they’re shouldering the burdens of everyone else. Inspired by the author’s own experience of the culture shock of moving to Australia as a seven-year-old in the 1980s, All Four Quarters of the Moon is a heartening tale of sisterhood, family and the power of stories. Woven with Chinese mythology and magic, it’s a comforting book full of heart. (Usborne Publishing)

Like A Curse by Elle McNicoll

Reuniting readers with plucky neurodivergent protagonist Ramya Knox, this immersive sequel to Elle McNicoll’s Like A Charm sees the young witch stuck in Loch Ness. Yet her heart is still with her beloved Edinburgh and with the city threatened by a frighteningly powerful enemy, Ramya sets out to save her beloved home – as well as her friends and family. To succeed, she’ll need to learn not only the true meaning of her magic but also how to harness her emotions. Like A Curse is a fun and imaginative fantasy read that concludes the magical duology on a high. (Knights Of)

Where The River Takes Us by Lesley Parr

Set against the backdrop of the miners’ strikes in Wales in the 1970’s, Lesley Parr’s latest historical adventure follows a young boy’s quest to find proof of the existence of a mysterious wild cat rumoured to roam the forest. With the promise of a much-needed financial reward and the help of his three best friends, Jason embarks on a journey through the valley that will change each of them forever. Evoking the classic feel of Stand By Me, this is a perfect middle grade adventure, with fascinating detail from an era that isn’t often covered in children’s fiction. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas

Aggie Thomas might be best known for her powerful contemporary YA novels, but Nic Blake and The Remarkables proves that the author is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fantasy fiction too. A middle grade novel full of spells, curses, folklore and mythical creatures, it centres on the titular twelve-year-old Nic who’s spent her life moving from city to city with her dad, hiding their magical Gift. When her father is taken prisoner, it’s up to Nic and her best friend JP to find a magical weapon that will save him – and the Remarkable world – before it’s too late. Utilising the popular prophecy and chosen one tropes, this is a fantasy series that ties into African-American history, promising even more magic and adventure as it continues. (Walker Books)

Steady For This by Nathanael Lessore

Steady For This introduces readers to wannabe rapper MC Growls – otherwise known as Shaun – as his dreams of going viral come true in the worst possible way when a livestream practice goes wrong. Now he’s the joke of the school and his crush won’t even look at him. With his hopes of winning the Raptology competition seemingly dashed before he’s even had a chance, Shaun makes a new friend who might just be able to help him turn his bad luck and shaky home life around. Dealing with relatable, realistic themes, this is a funny, hopeful and authentic teen read that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds. (Hot Key Books)

Vivi Conway and the Sword of Legend by Lizzie Huxley-Jones

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On the day she’s supposed to move from Wales to London, twelve-year-old Vivi escapes from a terrifying monster with the help of the legendary Excalibur, a talking dog called Gerlert and a new friend called Dara. Arriving at her new school in the city, Vivi discovers that she’s part of a magical group of children who share the souls of witches. Armed with a newfound elemental ability, she must harness her power and trust her new friends in order to protect the world from evil. The first book in Lizzie Huxley-Jones’ Own Voices middle grade debut is a true celebration of friendship and embracing the things that make us different. It’s a wonderfully inclusive story that blends Welsh mythology with a contemporary setting. (Knights Of)

Fablehouse by E. L. Norry

Inspired by Holnicote House, an orphanage in Somerset that was home to the ‘brown babies’ of white women and Black American soldiers, Fablehouse follows a group of children – led by brave Heather – who team up with a Black Knight from King Arthur’s Round Table to thwart a fae plot to overthrow the human world. Discovering extraordinary powers of her own along the way, Heather is determined that no child will be forgotten or left behind. Set in post-war Britain, E. L. Norry’s enchanting novel is an empowering and endearing historical fantasy full of young heroes, dangerous folkloric creatures and Arthurian legend. A book that’s easy to fall in love with and difficult to forget. (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)

Just Like Everyone Else by Sarah Hagger-Holt

Thirteen-year-old Aidan is already overwhelmed by his crowded house and over-loud family. But when his mum announces that she’s going to be a surrogate for gay couple Justin and Atif, Aidan is furious and scared in equal measure. Struggling to accept his own sexuality, Aidan isn’t ready to come out and he fears this new situation will expose him as gay. If only he could be just like everyone else… Exploring themes of family, friendship, identity and self-acceptance, Sarah Hagger-Holt’s coming-of-age novel is a tender tween read (though it’s just as engaging for adults) that delicately handles the subject of surrogacy and how it can affect families. (Usborne Publishing)

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