Namaste Is a Greeting by Suma Subramaniam, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Walker, £12.99)
What is namaste? This meditative, joyous little picture book gently investigates the word’s layers of meaning: a greeting, a yoga pose, a celebration, “the divine in me honouring the divine in you”.
Elmer and the Gift by David McKee (Andersen, £12.99)
Aunt Zelda has a gift for Elmer – the only problem is, she can’t remember what it is. The 30th Elmer story from the much-missed David McKee is a tender, humorous look at the loving bonds between young and elderly family members who remember the essentials, whatever else they may forget.
One & Everything by Sam Winston (Walker Studio, £14.99)
A deceptively simple picture book full of intricate, fascinating detail, this is the story of a story that swallows up all others – only to realise that it has become not one but every story. Winston uses 50 different scripts, including cuneiform, hieroglyphs and ogham, to illustrate this book – a dynamic celebration of written languages and a call to preserve those under threat.
The Ever-Changing Earth by Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar, £12.99)
This stunning picture-book history of the world, for slightly older readers of 5+, is a beautiful and poetic account of the planet’s lifespan and the interconnectedness of all things, from the dinosaurs to the present day – the things we know “because the rocks remember”.
A Is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation by Ellen Heck (Pushkin, £12.99)
This striking, boldly coloured picture book for 5+, and language lovers of all ages, is an alphabet book with a difference. From A for bee (ari in Turkish, aamoo in Ojibwe, abelha in Portuguese) to Z for elephant (zaan in Mongolian, zehon in Amharic), it opens up a vista of sounds and meanings from all around the world.
The Magic of the Ballet by Vivian French, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara (Walker, £16.99)
Perfect for small ballet fans of 6+, this lovely compendium of ballet stories, including Coppélia, The Firebird, Giselle and Sleeping Beauty, is told with assured, absorbing interest and illustrated with delicate porcelain charm.
The Incredible Pop-Up Mummy by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Quang and Lien (Templar, £25)
This spectacular lift-the-flap book opens out in intricate layers, revealing how mummification happens, the interior of the Great Pyramid, what was under Tutankhamun’s death mask and the mysteries of Egyptian burial rituals. A must for Egyptophiles of 7+.
Bramble Fox by Kathrin Tordasi, translated by Cathrin Wirtz (Pushkin, £7.99)
When Portia visits her eccentric aunts in Wales, she’s swept headlong into a terrifying adventure as she and quiet, bookish Ben mistakenly open a portal to the Otherworld. The cunning spirit Robin Goodfellow sees the open door as his last chance to get home – but for the human world, the breach spells terrible danger … An atmospheric, imaginative magical fantasy for readers of 8+.
Glowrushes by Roberto Piumini, translated by Leah Janeczko (Pushkin, £9.99)
Madurer, the son of a wealthy lord, is cut off from the outside world by his allergy to sunlight and fresh air. When his father implores Sakumat, a great artist, to paint the walls of his rooms, Madurer is given new freedom both by the pictures and by Sakumat’s developing friendship – but his health is still weakening. Best for 8 and up, this elegant, moving novella is a classic of Italian children’s literature, filled with understatedly exquisite, transporting prose.
Journey Back to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story by Catherine Johnson (Barrington Stoke, £7.99)
Kidnapped into slavery as a child, Olaudah Equiano travelled for many years, fighting to win back his freedom and eventually becoming an author and abolitionist. Johnson’s lively, lightly fictionalised account of Equiano’s life makes gripping reading for 9+, as do the contextualising and thoughtful author’s notes.
All the Jingle Ladies by Beth Garrod (Scholastic, £8.99)
Since her parents charted with a cheesy festive hit, Molly hates Christmas, not least because of her mortifying appearance as a little kid in the video. Love Your Elf has now resurfaced in the new Christmas blockbuster, so when Molly meets a gorgeous boy at the premiere, she naturally invents a false identity to hide her shame. But is she the only one undercover? Stuffed with yule-themed jokes, this twinkly, escapist romcom romp is ideal festive fun for 12+.
The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner (Otter-Barry, £12.99)
Best for 14+, this muscular reinterpretation of the Minotaur myth is intertwined with the journey of Theo, a modern teenager on a quest to find his father. In hard-hitting verse, both formal and free, the new children’s laureate poses challenging questions (sometimes using an intriguing Choose Your Own Adventure format) about masculinity, identity and the need to belong. A striking and powerful retelling, heightened by Kate Milner’s expressive drawings.
We Are All Constellations by Amy Beashel (Rock the Boat, £8.99)
Seventeen-year-old Iris is strong. She doesn’t show weakness or let boyfriends get too close. She may have lost her mother, but she’s happy, self-sufficient, doing fine – until she discovers the secret her father and stepmum have been keeping. This poignant YA story of long-frozen grief and gradual self-discovery is slyly funny, romantic and filled with unlikely beauty.