Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels

There’s Nothing Faster Than a Cheetah by Tom Nicoll, illustrated by Ross Collins, Macmillan, £12.99
At the start of the race, cocky Cheetah is confident she can’t be caught by rhinos on roller skates or even a rocket-powered rabbit. But will the snails surprise her? This Wacky Races-style riot of a picture book features animals, vehicles and the deliciously unexpected.

Blue by Sarah Christou, Faber, £7.99
Sweet, understated and welcomingly simple, this picture book emphasises the healing power of putting big emotions into shared words.

Protecting the Planet: Emperor of the Ice by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Catherine Rayner, Walker, £12.99
For 5+ readers, this gorgeous picture book account of the emperor penguin’s struggle to adapt to the changing climate offers breathtaking images and powerful, resonant text.

Arthur Who Wrote Sherlock by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Isabelle Follath, Andersen, £8.99
The true story of the man and the imagination behind the world’s most famous detective, superbly told for readers of 6+, with engaging illustrations.

A Tricky Kind of Magic by Nigel Baines, Hachette, £7.99
Cooper has always loved magic, but his dad’s sudden death feels like the worst vanishing trick of all. Angry, sad and lost, Cooper can’t talk to anyone – until the old rabbit from Dad’s top hat tells him there’s a place his father can still be found: the land where magic goes wrong. But who and what is really waiting for them? This funny, poignant, imaginative graphic novel for 8+ looks warmly and accessibly at grief.

A Romani Story – A Different Kind of Freedom by Richard O’Neill, Scholastic, £6.99
Lijah loves life as a nomadic Romany boy – but he loves football too, despite his father’s prohibitions. When Lijah’s talent starts opening up opportunities for him, he’s torn between his way of life and the game that might shape his destiny. For 8+ football fans, this readable, gripping story of a boy finding his own path is written by a master Romany storyteller.

The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Die by Peter Lantos, Scholastic, £7.99
Uprooted from his Hungarian home, forced to travel through Austria and Germany, and eventually imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, five-year-old Peter is shielded from the worst horrors by his fierce, courageous mother and her determination to keep them both alive. This extraordinary true story for 9+, told from a matter-of-fact child’s perspective, is a surprisingly gentle, hope-filled introduction to Holocaust history.

This Book Kills by Ravena Guron, Usborne, £8.99
When Jess Choudhary, scholarship girl at prestigious Heybuckle boarding school, writes a short story featuring a murder with a bizarre detail, she doesn’t expect fiction to become fact – or to find herself next on the killer’s list. A gripping YA debut for fans of MA Bennett’s S.T.A.G.S. and Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades.

Influential by Amara Sage, Faber, £8.99
Seventeen-year-old Almond Brown has been “internet famous” from her earliest childhood. She has no real-life friends, but her 3.5 million followers wait hungrily for every update, endorsement and potential misstep. As her anxiety rises and cruel trolls target her, can Almond break free of #influencerlife and explore offline love, freedom and recovery? A thoughtful and believable first novel for 14+, exploring the nuances of cancel culture and the remorseless nature of internet scrutiny.