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3 riveting October reads for children

3 Riveting October Reads For Children

October is traditionally a month of exciting new books in every genre, and this month’s publications are no exceptions. In this blog I present three riveting reads from three very well-established children’s authors who have produced their best books yet.

‘Children of the Stone City’ by Beverley Naidoo


Published by: HarperCollins, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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It’s lovely to have a new book from Beverley Naidoo, Carnegie Medal-winning author of The Other Side of Truth. The setting of this powerful, skilfully plotted novel could be anywhere where segregation, inequality and political unrest occur. The main characters are Adam, his sister Leila, and their friend Zak. They are Nons, but the ruling class, The Permitteds, have built a wall to separate the Nons within the Stone City from the Nons who live outside it. The children’s families, like all the Nons, live in constant fear of being separated, and one day this fear is realised. Can Adam’s desperate plan to keep them together work? Is Zak’s crazy prank going to ruin everything?

Children of the Stone City is written in two voices. Adam is a really engaging child whose love of music defines his sensitivity and focus. He is convinced that he and his violin can save the family. His plucky younger sister Leila, lover of skateboarding, is equally determined to keep her brother from harm. Beverely Naidoo has a strong sense of family bonds and children’s behaviour even, especially perhaps, in a time of stress of danger.

Children of the Stone City is an important book that will touch the hearts and minds of readers of all ages.

Beverley Naidoo. Photo: Linda Brownlee
Beverley Naidoo. Photo: Linda Brownlee

‘Tyger’ by SF Said


Published by: David Fickling Books, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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SF Said
SF Said

Adam lives in the Ghetto with his family and has to deliver parcels in the dangerous city that is ruled by Maldehyde, who is in every sense a super-villain. In a desperate attempt to run away from thugs, Adam stumbles across a huge, beautiful, and badly wounded animal. This is Tyger, a magical immortal creature who will die if she can’t return to the outer world that she belongs to. Tyger shows Adam how he can help to save her and the world that he himself lives in, which is on a pathway to destruction. Adam has to find his way through four doors to earn the superpowers that he needs to fulfil this mighty task.

This is an ambitious book, packed with all the dangers and excitements of a classic adventure story, but also steeped in the affirming wisdom of Tyger’s words. She teaches Adam and his friend Zadie how to find their own strength and innate power.

SF Said has once again teamed up with the extraordinary artist Dave McKean to produce a book of exceptional beauty. Lovers of Narnia will equally love this book with its majestic theme of empowerment. It is a glorious triumph.

‘The Boy Lost in a Maze’ by Joseph Coelho


Published by: Otter-Barry Books, 2022. Available from Amazon.

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When I reviewed The Girl Who Became a Tree in in my blog on Joseph Coelho, Children’s Laureate 2022–2024, I described it as being one of the most astonishing and beautiful books I have read this year. I believe, though it’s a near thing, that his latest book, The Boy Lost in a Maze, surpasses this accolade. Again, I don’t want to call it a verse novel. It is a novel told in poems. Each episode of the story is a new complete poem, distinct in form and content.

There are two narrators, Theo and Theseus. Both are sixteen, but one is a boy from today, and the other is the mythical future Greek king. Theo is estranged from his father and is desperate to find him. He is fascinated by the story of Theseus and his search for his own father. Both boys have been lied to about their family story, and are determined to unravel the lies and find the truth.

Joseph Coelho, Children’s Laureate 2022–204
Photo: The British Library, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just like him

I’ll map my wrath

By searching for my father’s path

So writes Theo, as he embarks on a journey that twines his own emotional and physical journey with the ‘labours’ of Theseus. The adventures of the two boys are graphically told in a series of fine poems that are sometimes free-form, sometimes rap, sometimes highly structured, but always accessible.

This powerful, painful and exciting novel is illustrated throughout by Kate Milner. Her artwork is dramatic and balletic, and is a fitting complement to an exceptional book for older teenagers.

An October publication of my own

October also saw the publication of my own new novel The Haunted Hills.

Cover of The Haunted Hills by Berlie Doherty

Over to you

The three authors reviewed above have written many fine books already. If you’d like to recommend any more of their books, please suggest them in the comments box below.

Berlie Doherty

Berlie Doherty is the author of the best-selling novel, Street Child, and over 60 more books for children, teenagers and adults, and has written many plays for radio, theatre and television. She has been translated into over twenty languages and has won many awards, including the Carnegie medal for both Granny Was a Buffer Girl and Dear Nobody, and the Writers’ Guild Award for both Daughter of the Sea and the theatre version of Dear Nobody. She has three children and seven grandchildren, and lives in the Derbyshire Peak District with Alan James Brown. Her brand new novel for ages 10–14, The Haunted Hills, is out now, as is her novel for adults, Rose Doran Dreams. See the About me page for more information.

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