Top 10 Best Children's Books Released in 2016

We take a look back at the very best of the wonderful children's books that were released in 2016. From gritty mysteries to gorgeous picture books, these titles are exciting, engaging, funny and poignant. The list also features much-loved authors such as Cassandra Clare and David Walliams.

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1. Lady Midnight

Cassandra Clare | 13+

This highly-anticipated book is the first in Cassandra Clare's new The Dark Artifices series. Emma Carstairs is now a young woman, hell-bent on revenge for her losses. She finds herself investigating a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, but her heart is leading her astray. Additionally, Mark has returned, having been captured by the faeries five years ago. The faeries want to find out who is murdering their kind and they need the Shadowhunters' help to do it. But can they be trusted?

2. A River

Marc Martin | 3+

There is a river outside my window... where will it take me? Embark on an amazing, imaginary journey from the city to the sea. From factories to farmlands, freeways to forest, each new landscape is explored through gorgeous illustrations and lyrical text, providing a magical voyage for younger readers.

3. Wild Lily

K. M. Peyton | 11+

It's the 1920s. Cars and aeroplanes are new and exciting. Lily Gabriel is 13 years old - she's scruffy and confident and utterly no-nonsense! Antony is 17 - a rich, spoiled and arrogant young man - but Lily is completely in love with him. Join Lily as she falls in love, falls out of the sky, falls through time, and effortlessly, inescapably, falls into her future. Throughout, she will hold onto exactly what she needs: a young and wild heart.

4. Dave's Cave

Frann Preston-Gannon | 3+

This brilliantly funny picture book conveys the heart-warming message that there really is no place like home! Written in hilarious caveman language, it follows Dave the caveman. Despite having a lovely cave in a lovely spot, Dave is unhappy. What if there's an even better cave out there? But when he looks for one, it turns out that good caves are hard to find - too small, too big, too full of bats. Then he finds one that looks much more promising... but why does it look so familiar?

5. Rebel of the Sands

Alwyn Hamilton

This stunning story was an immediate bestseller, filled with exhilarating twists and turns. Dustwalk is Amani's home; the desert sand is in her bones. But she wants - no, she needs - to escape. Then, a nameless foreigner shows up to save her life, and gives her the chance to run away with him. But to where? The desert plains are simmering with danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan's enemies are on the rise.

6. The Midnight Gang

David Walliams | 9+

This spellbinding story features Tom, who ends up at Lord Funt Hospital after being hit on the head by a cricket ball. He is greeted by the intimidating porter and meets the wicked matron of the children's ward - but, unbeknownst to him, he is about to undertake the adventure of a lifetime. The story features the riveting quest of five children calling themselves The Midnight Gang, as well as a bit of magic, mayhem and making dreams come true.

7. Raymie Nightingale

Kate DiCamillo | 9+

Raymie Clarke has a plan. If she can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition, her father - who has run away with a dental hygienist - will see her picture in the paper and might even come home. To win, Raymie must do good deeds, learn how to twirl a baton, and compete with the wispy Louisiana Elefante and fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski. As the competition approaches, however, loneliness, loss and unanswerable questions draw the three girls together - and challenge them to rescue one another in unexpected ways.

8. Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

Frank Cottrell Boyce | 9+

Prez has been fostered by the big, warm Blythe family. One day, a small, loud stranger called Sputnik shows up, claiming to be Prez's relative. The family seem to think he's a dog; only Prez thinks otherwise. But Sputnik unleashes chaos that Prez will need to get under control, like a TV remote that fast-forwards people. It turns out that Sputnik is writing a guidebook to Earth, and he takes Prez on enthralling adventures to advance his research. But each adventure takes Prez closer to the day he must leave the family...

9. The Darkest Dark

Chris Hadfield | 3+

Popular astronaut Chris Hadfield tells a heart-warming story about a little boy who dreams of flying into space, despite a dreadful fear of the dark! His name? Chris! Young Chris knows that when bedtime arrives, the worst sort of alien appears: darkness! But when he watches the first televised moon landing, he realises that the dark isn't scary at all, because even where the darkest dark is, out there in space, it's actually very exciting! With gorgeous artwork and an otherworldly feel, this book will enchant little ones.

10. Anna and the Swallow Man

Gavriel Savit | 9+

This stunning, powerful novel tells the story of 7-year-old Anna Lania, who lives in Krakow in 1939. There are countless soldiers and hundreds of barking dogs. When the Germans take Anna's father, she is suddenly alone. Then she meets the mysterious Swallow Man. When he summons a beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her crying, Anna is entranced. On their travels together, they will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even make a friend. But in a chaotic world, everything can prove dangerous...

  • MNW2 9 years +
    9 years +
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    • £7.99
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    One of the UK's favourite storytellers, David Walliams' novels are full of wit and wisdom. They have heart-warming themes and a spiky sense of humour that appeals to any fan of Roald Dahl. In this book, he's delighted to introduce children to the Midnight Gang!

    Although most children are fast asleep by the time the clock strikes 12, the Midnight Gang's adventures are just beginning... Tom has been hit on the head by a cricket ball and finds himself at Lord Funt hospital, a place run by terrifying porters and wicked matrons. However, when he meets four other patients in the children's ward, things get exciting.

    While bonding, the five friends find all their dreams coming true. This is a spellbinding book about the power of friendship and magic. It's just as captivating as Walliams' previous books Mr Stink, The Boy in the Dress and Gangsta Granny and has a cast of characters your children will instantly love.
  • Lady Midnight - Paperback - 9781471116612 - Cassandra Clare
    LMID 13 years +
    13 years +
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    The first book in Cassandra Clare's The Dark Artifices series, Lady Midnight is a sequel to the bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

    It's been five years since the events of the City of Heavenly Fire almost brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion and Emma Carstairs is now a young woman hell-bent on avenging her losses.

    While doing this, Emma finds herself investigating a demonic plot that stretches all across Los Angeles - from the Sunset Strip to the beaches of Santa Monica. However, Emma's heart is leading her into dangerous waters...

    To make things even more complicated, Mark has returned as a bargaining chip after being captured by the faeries five years ago. The faeries want to find out who is murdering their kind and they need the Shadowhunters' help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn't recognise his family. Can he ever return to him? And can the faeries really be trusted?
  • The Darkest Dark - Hardback - 9781509824083 - Chris Hadfield
    TDDK 3 years +
    3 years +
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    Popular astronaut Chris Hadfield (you may know him as 'the singing spaceman') tells a heart-warming story about a young boy who dreamed of being flying into space despite being scared of the dark. That boy's name? Chris...

    Chris is a busy astronaut who knows that saving the planet from aliens is far more important than trivial stuff like taking baths or going to bed... he's also fully aware that it's at bedtime when the worst sort of alien appears - darkness!

    But then Chris watches the first televised moon landing and realises he doesn't have so be scared of the dark. Space is the darkest dark there is - and it's also the most exciting place in the solar system.

    With its anecdotal feel and out-of-this-world artwork from the Fan Brothers, this is a reassuring, fun and exciting picture book for any child who dreams of exploring space!
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    Anna and the Swallow Man is a stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel that tells a new WW2 story. Krakow, 1939, is no place to grow up. There are a million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. And Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father and suddenly, she's alone. Then she meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall. And like Anna's missing father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgement, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous...
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    It's the 1920s - cars and aeroplanes are new. Lily Gabriel is 13 years old - she's scruffy and confident and takes no nonsense from anyone. Antony is 17 - he's rich, spoiled and arrogant and Lily is completely and utterly - no nonsense! - in love with him. So join Lily as she falls...Falls in love...Falls out of the sky...Falls through time...And effortlessly, inescapably, falls into her future. Life is never what you expect or what you predict. But if you're lucky, you hold onto exactly what you need - a young and wild heart.
  • AQOQE 3 years +
    3 years +
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    There is a river outside my window. Where will it take me? So begins an imaginary journey from the city to the sea. From factories to farmlands, freeways to forest, each new landscape is explored through stunning illustrations and poetic text from this award-winning picture-book creator.
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    In her seventh novel, international bestselling author and twice winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal Kate DiCamillo tells a masterful story that blends pathos and humour. Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father - who has run away with a dental hygienist - will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, but she has to compete with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante with her show-business background and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who's determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship - and challenge them to come to each other's rescue in unexpected ways.
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    Stand-out new picture book from Frann Preston-Gannon, the first UK recipient of the Sendak Fellowship and author of The Journey Home, shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway 2014 and Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. A stylish, witty picture book with a heart-warming message - sometimes you have to find out for yourself that there really is no place like home. The text, written in caveman language, is laugh-out-loud funny and perfect for reading aloud.Dave loves his cave. Inside is decorated EXACTLY the way he likes it. Outside there is a lovely spot for a fire and the grass is always lovely and green. But, Dave is unhappy. What if there might be an even better cave out there? And off he sets in search of a new home. But it turns out that good caves are hard to find. They're either too small, or too big, or too full of bats, until he finds one that looks MUCH more promising. Outside has the perfect space for a fire and the grass is greener than any he's ever seen ...But why does it look so familiar?
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    Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce, with illustrations by Steven Lenton, will send your imagination into orbit! The Blythes are a big, warm, rambunctious family who live on a small farm and sometimes foster children. Now Prez has come to live with them. But, though he seems cheerful and helpful, he never says a word. Then one day Prez answers the door to someone claiming to be his relative. This small, loud stranger carries a backpack, walks with a swagger and goes by the name of Sputnik. As Prez dithers on the doorstep, Sputnik strolls right past him and introduces himself to everyone in the household. Prez is amazed at the response. The family pat Sputnik on the head, call him a good boy and drop food into his mouth. It seems they all think Sputnik is a dog. It's only Prez who thinks otherwise. But Prez soon finds himself having to defend the family from the chaos and danger unleashed by Sputnik, as household items come to life - like a TV remote that fast-forwards people: 'Anyone can do it, it's just that people don't read the instructions properly'; and a toy lightsaber that entertains guests at a children's party, until one of them is nearly decapitated by it - and Prez is going to have to use his voice to explain himself. It turns out that Sputnik is writing a guidebook to Earth called Ten Things Worth Doing on Earth, and he takes Prez on a journey to discover just those ten things. Each adventure seems to take Prez nearer to the heart of the family he is being fostered by. But they also take him closer to the day that he is due to leave them forever ...