Who are we kiddin’? – It’s all about the kids at Christmas!
Following on from our posts about the best books of 2017, here are our top picks for children’s and YA titles. We’ve got quite the collection at Turnaround that explore topical themes like sexuality, feminism, and politics; always presented in an easily accessible and non-offensive way for our younger readers. Additionally, we have titles that feature complicated family issues, relationships and mental health, told in entertaining and engaging formats for our older readers. Discover more about our diverse, lively and engrossing books below…
Top Board Book – Age: 0-3
Feminist Baby (Disney-Hyperion)
Meet the irrepressible Feminist Baby in this refreshing, clever board book about a girl who’s not afraid to do her own thing, and wants to make as much noise as possible along the way! Feminist Baby has proved a controversial and bold board book, criticised by many and yet also praised by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. We, at Turnaround, love this delightful title that challenges stereotypical gender roles in a hilarious and fun way!
Best picture books – Age: 4-7
A is for Activist (Seven Stories)
A is for Activist is an ABC book inclusive with alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations that will no doubt excite young children and also provide a learning space for civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for! A beautiful sassy edition that kids can get their teeth into.
The Wedding Portrait (Seven Stories)
Written by the bestselling author of A is for Activist, Innosanto Nagara follows suit with a stunning picture book about standing up for what is right. Nagara explores crucial ideas of civil disobedience and direct action in an accessible format, that will speak to a young readers’ sense of right and wrong. There has never been a more important moment for Innosanto Nagara’s gentle message of firm resolve.
The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press)
Breaking the trends of children’s books – The Most Magnificent Thing is not just about a girl who likes to play with dolls – this girl likes to invent things too! With an engaging plot, children are also taught an important lesson about persistence in order to achieve their goals, and that making mistakes is a normal part of the process. Additionally, there is also a lesson to be learned when one feels overwhelmed and how one can cope with feelings of frustration and stress – an important lesson for children to learn.
This is the 21st century, we should have more books about girls being creative, inventive and intelligent, and The Most Magnificent Thing does just that. A funny, light-hearted and inspiring picture book!
From The Stars In The Sky To The Fish In The Sea (Arsenal Pulp Press)
A powerful picture book that explores non-gender conformity in a fresh and playful way. Miu Lan, our main character, loves to dress up – one day they are a fish, the next a cat, the day after that, a rabbit. There isn’t one thing that can define Miu Lan and in this way they are happy. Their mother dotes on them no matter their ever-changing appearance but the children at school are slow to accept them. Miu Lan must overcome the judgement of her peers and the inner conflict that awakes within them as a result – as from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea – you can be whatever you choose to be.
Find out more here in our Tanyel’s blog post!
The Scariest Book Ever (Disney-Hyperion)
This is seriously one hilarious book! Who has ever heard of a ghost who’s petrified of absolutely everything? The best part is that he is frequently ‘naked’ and uses a white sheet as his clothing! Written in the third person narrative, the ghost speaks directly to you, as the reader, making this a highly engaging book for children.
Capital (Simply Read)
A comical jab at capitalism in the form of a simple, wordless, illustrated story about a piggy bank whose greed becomes unstoppable! From award-winning Portuguese artist Afonso Cruz. This is a great book to teach young children about the consequences of greed, whilst also being entertained!
Anne at Highwood Hall (Seven Stories)
Boisterous, witty, and enchanting, this collection of children’s poems by Robert Graves will delight any young reader. These remarkable poems evoke the world of Victorian England, with iconic illustrations from Edward Ardizzone.
Tell Me About Sex Grandma (Feminist Press)
This friendly, pared-down version of ‘the talk’ emphasises that sexuality is your birthright, and that it develops over a lifetime. An important book to educate children on what is acceptable and what isn’t in term of consent, stressing sex positivity and the right to be curious about your body.
Top children’s graphic novels – Ages: 8-11
The Errand (Simply Read)
Reminiscent of the famous Brothers’ Grimm tales, The Errand is the first in a fable-like graphic novel trilogy. A nameless boy carries a package that he must deliver to the terrifying woman who lives in the darkest part of the Whispering Woods… We don’t know what’s in the package or why he was chosen to deliver it – we only know that something terrible might happen if he doesn’t complete his assignment. An enchanting tale that reads like a fairy tale, holding a significant morale to the story.
Find out more here.
These are three hilarious, wacky and zany comics by Bog Eyed Books.
In Derek The Sheep: Let’s Bee Friends! Derek hurtles through farm life, destroying barns, battling magical leprechauns and cheating in a haircut competition, all for an easy life!
Useleus: A Greek Oddity is an Asterix for the 21st Century, skilfully written by Alexander Matthews and nimbly drawn by Wilbur Dawbarn. From battling giants, to outwitting gods, to clashes with mythical creatures, Ancient History has never been more fun!
Sgt. Chip Charlton and Mr. Woofles joins the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, alongside his unconventional canine side-kick. Sgt Chip soon proves the naysayers wrong, and time after time, crime after crime, demonstrates how even a weak stomach is no obstacle to following your dream!
Find out more about our newest children’s publisher and their zany comics here.
Our star picks for YA – Age: 14-16
Every Last Word (Disney-Hyperion)
Promoting mental health in YA fiction is becoming more frequent nowadays, and a good thing too if we want to dispel the stigma over mental health issues! Every Last Word is told in an entertaining way, exploring the everyday life of a teenage girl at secondary school, but with one major twist – she has a secret she’s hiding from everyone, even her best friends. I had never even heard of her condition before (I’ll let you find out what that is) so it was refreshing to read about a character that I could not predict and learning about her ailment. The twist at the end is one you’ll NEVER see coming, and I can guarantee that as I’m fairly good at guessing plot developments for the most part, however this time, I was COMPLETELY blown away!
There will be a surprising number of teenagers and adults who will relate to our protagonist, as well as those that will be fascinated by the symptoms of her condition and how she goes about dealing with them. Every Last Word entertains and enlightens readers, opening the way for a deeper understanding of how people cope with mental health issues in everyday life.
Find out more here.
Royal Bastards (Disney-Hyperion)
Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts is the first in a thrilling trilogy and a highly addictive, breath-taking fantasy adventure. Tillandra, or Tilla, is our heroine and the driving force behind her gang of bastards. When princess Lyriana makes the decision to sit at the ‘bastards table’ at the royal feast, Tilla is shocked, similarly are her surrounding companions. That night, Tilla and her band of bastards take the princess on a late night escapade. It’s all fun and games until they discover a harrowing scene, one they definitely should not have been witness to, one that may even get them killed… Fans of medieval fantasy-adventure eat your heart out – you’re in for one unforgettable experience!
Find out more here.
Dark Horses (Penguin Random House)
While Black Beauty is like sweet liquorice – morish with a bit of bite to it – Dark Horses is like a rich chocolate fondant with a light dusting of cocaine – once you get a taste of it, you won’t be able to stop, however much you’d like to…
Dark Horses follows the exploits of Merritt Wenner and Red. Merritt has been self-destructing ever since the tragic death of her grandmother. After an epic all-night bender, she walks out of her SAT exams. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine-assisted therapy program to help cure her, and there she meets the unpredictable and wild Red.
Find out more here
Ballad For a Mad Girl (Text Publishing)
Ballad for a Mad Girl is a ghost thriller with a keen literary angle. It’s all about survival and the different ways in which we deal with grief. Grace Foley is your typical rebellious teenager – she sneaks out at night when she’s not supposed to, she takes part in daring and risky activities (like accepting a challenge to walk the pipe), but there’s one thing that Vic has which no-one else does – the ability to see ghosts.
Be prepared for an unflinching and entertaining account of one girl’s experience with the spirits and her own inner demons as she manoeuvres around parents, friends and the veil between this world and the next.
A healer who cannot be healed, and a solider destroyed by the effects of war – both from different tribes – must comes together if they hope to oppose an oppressive empire. This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes.
The Wild Book (Yonder)
This is the first title from Yonder, a new children’s and YA imprint of Restless Books, who’ve long been a favourite publisher of mine. I was really excited to see what their first pick of translated fiction would be and they didn’t let me down! The Wild Book is the YA debut of one of Mexico’s foremost authors, Juan Villoro, and tells the story of a boy who, following his parents’ divorce, is sent to live with his book-obsessed uncle in a library where books have supernatural powers. (I mean, more than they have already). The narrative is marvellous and tender, the writing fresh and evocative – I just wish I knew more 10-14 year olds who I could give it to!
Yonder aims to raise the next generation as savvy global citizens who are curious to see beyond their own communities, a sentiment that I am 100% behind. I can’t wait to see what they come out with next!
Still Life With Tornado (Text Publishing)
Sarah is sixteen and a talented artist. But something happened to her and suddenly she can’t draw. Something happened six years ago too, on a family holiday in Mexico, and afterwards her brother disappeared (her parents tell her he joined a religious cult). So Sarah is bunking off school, wandering around Philadelphia, following a homeless man, and bumping into past and future versions of herself… meanwhile her parents’ already fractious marriage is completely unravelling. This is a spectacular novel, dealing adroitly with a vast array of issues including domestic abuse, depression and anxiety, our evolving sense of self, family and art. The narrative structure, brilliant writing, themes, and complexity of the central character really set this novel apart.
Post by Sarah