Play Hard

Children’s books for all ages this May

As we keep searching for ways to keep the kids occupied, here's Becca Watts with the best new books out this month. Expect monsters, adventure, humour and surprises. There’s something for everyone...

Written by High Life North
Published 05.05.2020

Fly, Tiger, Fly

A bold, bright and imaginative story about a brave little tiger who dreams of being the first to fly. This is a great story to help teach resilience and features engaging comic-like speech asides which are a nice touch for slightly older readers if sharing a bedtime story with siblings.

My Monster and Me

A heart-warming, comforting read, My Monster and Me centres on a little boy who is followed everywhere by his very own worry monster. Only when he begins to talk about his problems, the worry monster begins to grow smaller and smaller. A visual representation of the old adage, a problem shared is a problem halved, and a thoughtful way of beginning a dialogue about any concerns or worries your child may have.

Coronavirus: A Book for Children

Free to download and illustrated by the beloved artist who drew the Gruffalo, this is an informative book aimed at 5-10-year olds to help explain in clear, age-appropriate terms what is happening right now. The book contains information from both a medical point of view and the effects the virus is having on everybody’s day to day life. This is a brilliant resource to have on hand to help answer any questions the kids may have during what is an undoubtedly scary and complex situation for many.

Check out our article here for more advice on explaining a pandemic to a 5-year-old. 


Stix is a mouse. A very good, rule-abiding mouse. Or at least he was until he met the other creatures of PESTS – the Peewit Educatorium for Seriously Terrible Scoundrels. With the help of his new friends, Stix is about to rip up the rule book and finally become a real pest.

A hilarious animal adventure from the creator of the Diary of Pig series. This is extremely silly fun and will provide some light-hearted fun for young readers. Oh, and the cover glows in the dark, which is super cool too.

The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates

A laugh out loud adventure story that sees three best friends set off on a quest with some extremely unexpected and miraculous results. Jenny Pearson, a teacher from Durham, has written a genuinely funny, heart-warming read that will appeal to fans of David Solomon and Maz Evans. It’s silly and irreverent (and isn’t that exactly what we all need right now?) but with a touching message about love and family at its heart. This is one of the funniest middle grade books I’ve read in a good while and is an absolutely cracking debut.

Where the Wilderness Lives

A fast-paced adventure packed with treasure, danger and an Irish Wolfhound – and what book isn’t made better when there are dogs? When Cara and her siblings happen upon a locked safe, their lives are soon turned upside down as they race to be the first to solve the mystery and open the safe. Their adventure sees them exploring the wilds of Wales and having to use the very best of their intelligence and bravery to not only discover what the safe holds but to return home safely.

This is Butterworth’s fourth middle-grade novel and she has made a name for herself writing adventures with a classic, timeless feel that are perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and will create a sense of nostalgia for parents who were themselves, adventurous kids.

The Deathless Girls

Evocative, bewitching and feminist, this is a sumptuously dark and superbly reimagining of the Brides of Dracula that positively oozes with gothic deliciousness. When twins Kizzy and Lil are taken from their traveller family and forced to work in the Boyar Valcar’s castle, little do they know the horrors that await them, and they soon discover that sometimes there is truth in the legend.

Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning middle-grade author, and this is her first foray into YA – and what a foray it is. Brimming with intrigue and compulsively readable, this is one to give to your teens and then read yourself.

Good Girl, Bad Blood

The follow up to the prize-winning A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Pip Fitz-Amobi returns to solve more crimes and uncover more dark secrets in her town. Though a follow-up, it’s not necessary to read the first in the series (though personally I’d recommend both on the grounds of them being brilliant reads) but readers can expect more intrigue, lies, twists and turns, along with Pip’s trademark humour and crackpot family.

This is the perfect series for fans of true crime (particularly if you’re familiar with the Serial podcast) and is hugely enjoyable, YA crime writing at its best. Another great book to share alongside your teens. Anyone for a home book club?

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