Twins, squirrels, love and more - for Christmas and long after

The best books of the year for children and young adults will make good reading at any time

The wolf from Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean

The wolf from Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean


After Iris: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby
By Natasha Farrant
Faber, £6.99
Bluebell narrates, in diary style,
her family’s efforts to accept the
death of her twin sister.
(Best age for this book: 14)

Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper
By Alan Early
Mercier, €8.99
Arthur and friends take on the evil and destructive Loki, resulting in some highly dramatic encounters. (10)

The Boy with 2 Heads
By Andy Mulligan
David Fickling, £10.99
A fascinating insight into contrasting young male personalities, by turns humorous and serious. (12)

The Brave Beast
By Chris Judge
Andersen, £5.99
Brave Beast confronts apparent
monster: a terrific blend of
exuberant artwork and verbally
exuberant text. (4)

The Day the Crayons Quit
By Drew Daywalt,
illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins, £12.99
Young Duncan’s crayons go on strike, but colourfully mischievous artwork eventually wins through. (6)

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
By Kate DiCamillo,
illustrated by KG Campbell
Walker, £10.99
A squirrel, almost consumed by a vacuum cleaner, takes to writing poetry. The madness continues. (10)

Ghost Hawk
By Susan Cooper
Bodley Head, £12.99
Native American meets English settler in a superbly written historical novel in which friendships and loyalties are severely tested. (12)

By Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Orion, £8.99
The magic and mystery of theatrical life vividly drawn in a novel moving between the London of yesterday and today. (12)

Heart Shaped
By Siobhán Parkinson
Hodder, £6.99
Contemporary Dublin provides the setting for the engaging story of a young teenager and her efforts to recover from her nightmares. (12)

Help! We Need a Title!
By Hervé Tullet
Walker, £12.99
Zany picture book that invites reader participation in challenging our understanding of such basic words as “characters”, “story” and “book” itself. (6)
If You Find Me
By Emily Murdoch
Indigo, £9.99
A teenage girl, a younger sister and a wayward mother just about survive in the Tennessee woods – and then threatening strangers arrive. (16)

Jake & Lily
By Jerry Spinelli
Orchard, £9.99
Growing up can mean growing apart, as twins Jake and Lily discover. (10)

By Aaron Becker
Walker, £12.99
A wordless picture book relating a little girl’s adventures as she draws and enters a magic doorway. (4)

The Keeper
By Darragh Martin
Little Island, €10.99
A thrilling story mixing Irish myth and contemporary life. Can the forces of the evil Morrigan be defeated? (10)

The Middle of Nowhere
By Geraldine McCaughrean
Usborne, £9.99
Adolescent friendships in the Australian outback of the 19th century come under threat from older tribal prejudices. (12)

Missing Ellen
By Natasha Mac a’ Bháird
O’Brien Press, €7.99
In a sequence of letters and diary entries a young teenager relates what ensues when her best friend disappears. (14)

More Than This
By Patrick Ness
Walker, £12.99
A teenage boy drowns, wakes up, finds himself in somehow familiar surroundings. Mysteries mount and explanations dazzle. (16)

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf
By David Almond,
illustrated by Dave McKean
Walker, £9.99
Inventive, beautifully written and dramatically illustrated variations on creation stories. (12)

Oliver and the Seawigs
By Philip Reeve,
illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Oxford University Press, £8.99
A boy’s hilarious sea search for lost parents, involving talking islands, weird wigs and other marine treats. The year’s funniest children’s book. (8)

Picture Me Gone
By Meg Rosoff
Penguin, £12.99
Twelve-year-old Mila accompanies her father as he travels to North America in search
of a missing friend. (14)

The Ransom of Dond
By Siobhan Dowd,
illustrated by Pam Smy
David Fickling, £9.99
The story, imbued with the atmosphere of Celtic mythology, of 13-year-old Darra and the cruel sacrifice expected of her. (10)

Rebecca Rocks
By Anna Carey
O’Brien Press, €7.99
Rebecca, Alice and Cass rock through a summer music camp and begin to understand the many faces of young love. (14)
By Katherine Rundell
Faber, £6.99
A young girl in search of an allegedly drowned mother enjoys many adventures among the Parisian
rooftops. (10)

Rules of Summer
By Shaun Tan
Lothian, £12.99
There can be alarming consequences – suggested in a sequence of occasionally scary illustrations – if rules are
disobeyed. (8)

Sea of Whispers
By Tim Bowler
Oxford University Press, £12.99
Insular landscapes are the setting for exploring a teenage girl’s relationship with her inward-looking community. (14)

The Sleeping Baobab Tree
By Paula Leyden
Walker, £5.99
Set in Zambia, this is an atmospheric and thought- provoking story in which ancient and modern worlds collide. (12)

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave
By John Boyne
Doubleday, £10.99
A young Londoner watches his father and family live through the horrors of the first World War. (14)

By Sally Gardner,
illustrated by David Roberts
Indigo, £9.99
A young soldier’s experiences in
the 17th-century Thirty Years War inspire a powerful exploration of some of the themes of maturing adolescence. (16)

The Tiny King
By Taro Miura
Walker, £11.99
Colourful cut-outs and collage add flavour to the enchanting story of what happens when Tiny King meets Big Princess. (4)

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