I’ve read over 100 amazing children’s books this year, so it was incredibly difficult to choose my top 12 reads – one for each month of the year – but I decided I was going to push myself to have a go. I think it is no surprise to anyone who reads my recommendations that I am a huge fan of fantasy stories although I have also re-discovered a love of historical fiction since I started my blog.
I’ve included the opening to my review in each of my choices with a link to my full review.
The Shark Caller: a stunning and powerful story which wove its magic straight into my heart; an unforgettable tale set on the beautiful island of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea; a tale of two young girls from different worlds who find a bond of sisterhood that saves them both. This is an incredibly moving story that left me in floods of tears, but it also left me filled with hope and reassurance. An absolute masterpiece that I’m already confident will be one of my top reads of 2021!
Circus Maximus: Race to the Death: a thrilling, heart-racing adventure which transported me back to Ancient Rome where courage and skill, danger and foul play are the order of the day in its greatest sporting arena: the Circus Maximus. Whilst the backdrop is the explosive excitement of the racing world, the beating heart at its epicentre is that of an incredible young girl, a girl with the courage and tenacity to fight for her seemingly unreachable dreams.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Edge of the Ocean: a breathtakingly brilliant return to this mesmerising, magical world where stepping through a suitcase brings a world of action-packed, nautical adventure, excitement aplenty and frissons of danger … perfect edge-of-your-seat reading at the Edge of the Ocean!
The Monsters of Rookhaven: an incredible read which captured me from the opening line (Mirabelle was in the garden feeding bones to the flowers ….) and transported me into a world filled with gothic delight, marvel and monsters. Mirabelle and her monster family are separated from the human world by a glamour which becomes torn, allowing two orphaned children, Jem and Tom, to discover their existence.
Skyborn: an electrifying adventure that transported me into an exhilarating, richly drawn world, captured my heart and left me with the sigh of satisfaction I get when I’ve finished something very special: a story that will stay with me for a long time, and one I will want to read again and again. This is a prequel to Eye of the North, but can easily be read as a standalone, although I would definitely recommend that you read it too!
Mystery of the Night Watchers: a gripping adventure with a brilliantly evoked sense of mystery, that kept me entranced throughout as secrets were revealed and lies unravelled against the backdrop of a wonderfully depicted Edwardian Society both in fear of, and excited by, the arrival of Halley’s comet. Perfect for younger, and older, fans of historical fiction.
Crowfall: a thrilling, irresistible corker of an adventure that utterly absorbed me from start to finish. I’m so glad I settled down to read this on a Sunday afternoon as it is most definitely a compelling page-turner that I devoured in one sitting. I have no doubt that young readers of 9+ will be completely entranced by this gripping tale as they venture into a world of excitement, discoveries and new friends.
When the Sky Falls: a stunning, powerful story that absolutely gripped me from the opening lines. It is a story set during the Second World War, but at its heart, it’s a story of loss, hope, kindness and being brave enough to trust. The characters in this story are unforgettable and found their way into my heart. Tears were streaming down my face as I read the last few pages, tears of sadness and tears of relief. It really felt like I was taken on such an emotional journey as I read this incredible story.
Between Sea and Sky: an engrossing ecological story, told from a dual perspective, that heartachingly portrays the devastation caused by environmental catastrophe with its impact on both the landscape and survivors, but there is also a heart-warming message of hope, that nature will fight for survival and find a way to regenerate if only it is given a chance.
Fireborn: a breath-taking epic quest that made my heart sing, ache and race as I was wholeheartedly engrossed from start to finish: dazzling, rich world-building; an incredible cast of characters; and an action-packed, electrifying plot that pulsates with darkness, danger, light and hope.
Uki and the Ghostburrow: is epic fantasy writing at its pinnacle: a story for anyone who longs to be swept into a richly-drawn world of breath-taking adventure, excitement and danger with heroes to root for, heroes who form heart-warming friendships, and who show great courage and strength to overcome evil. I was absolutely gripped from start to finish, starting it late in the evening, reading until my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer (the sign of a great book) and then getting up early to finish it. Perfection!
The Book of Stolen Dreams: an exceptionally powerful fantasy adventure that immediately drew me into the magic of the story with the intriguing introduction, and kept me gripped throughout. A story of love, courage and sacrifice in the face of hatred, cruelty and fear: a story that reverberates the past and the present with the hope of a better future. An unmissable, unforgettable adventure!
Have you read any of these? What have been some of your favourite books this year? What have I missed that you would recommend I read next year?