The ten best Children's books

Monica Slade chooses the titles that will keep readers of all ages entertained
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Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz

Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz

In this, the fifth novel based on teenage M16 super spy Alex Rider, our hero goes in search of a secret organization known as Scorpia to unearth details of his dead father's past. Featuring high-speed chases, death-defying stunts and man-eating tigers, this brilliant adventure ends with a fabulous (and controversial!) cliffhanger. Up there with Artemis Fowl and Harry P.

Walker Books, £5.99

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Young children love this tale of the tiny snail who hitches a lift on a humpback whale. Together, they journey past icebergs and volcanoes until disaster strikes and the whale is beached. - Guess who saves the day? Like all Donaldson's books, the story has the pleasing rhythm of a song. And Scheffler's illustrations are captivating.

Macmillan Children's Books, £10.99

Man on the Moon: A Day in the Life of Bob by Simon Bartram

This imaginative picture book features Bob, who works as a janitor and tour guide on the moon. It's very funny and has colourful and distinctive illustrations. Budding moon-walkers will get a particular kick from the strange aliens that sneak on to every page. Aimed at young children - this is a book even grown-ups will be happy to read again and again.

Templar, £9.99

Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2 by Dav Pilkey

The latest Captain Underpants adventure sees the Captain, George and Harold tackle the robo-boogers: disgusting, dangerous by-products of hi-tech wizardry and snot. Once you get past the idea of a book about bogeys, these funny and furiously paced books are a great way to encourage six- to 10-year-olds to read alone.

Scholastic $16.95/£9.20 (available from

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the Giraffe dreads the annual Jungle Dance because he is such a bad dancer (don't we all know how that feels?). Then, he discovers that all he needs is a different song to dance to. A rhyming story with superb illustrations, this teaches young children how appearances can be deceptive. A wonderfully funny book that is also a subtle way to discuss prejudice.

Orchard Books, £5.99

Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered by Quentin Blake and John Cassidy

This book is ideal for inspiring confidence in young would-be artists. With guidance from the celebrated illustrator Quentin Blake, this "sketchbook with training wheels" contains inspirational artwork, detailed instruction and plenty of white space to practice in. All about expression, this is a book to have fun with. It comes with a sketch pen and two watercolour pencils.

Klutz Scholastic, £12.99

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland

This is a delightful book, and a firm favourite with pre-schoolers. The glorious illustrations encourage comment and observation, while the rhythm of the text soon has children chanting along - which makes it ideal for shared reading. With 24 pages of bold, friendly dinosaur pictures, and a smattering of roaring, it's the kind of book children enjoy re-telling to themselves.

Ragged Bears, £4.99

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

The sequel to Sabriel and Lirael. Orannis the Destroyer has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to unleash its terrible powers. Only Lirael, Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping this enemy of all life. Aimed at young adult readers, Abhorsen will entrance Nix fans, who will be well used to the taut and witty narrative and vivid descriptions - and newcomers have the joy of discovery in front of them.

Harper Collins, £12.99

Molly Moon Stops the World by Georgia Byng

The eponymous 11-year-old heroine of Byng's books is back at the orphanage in Brierville. And it's not long before she's trying to stop megalomaniac hypnotist Primo Cell from taking over the world. Aimed at nine- to 12-year-olds, children love the plot twists Byng weaves into her fast-paced and hilarious narrative. In this book, Molly learns the true identity of her parents.

Macmillan Children's Books, £4.99

Fairy Shopping by Sally Gardner

Take a walk through streets lined with fairy shops and bustling with exotic shoppers - among them giants, elves, dragons and princesses. Pop into Sparks & Twinkle (wands & wings) and Hubble Bubble (cauldron ingredients). Meet fairies for elevenses, but best avoid Mr Wolf as he eats his breakfast. Sally Gardner's exquisitely illustrated book is a classic in the making.

Orion Children's Books, £9.99