All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

Smart is not just ticks and crosses, smart is building boats from boxes. Painting patterns, wheeling wagons, being mermaids, riding dragons. A joyful ode to all the unique and wonderful qualities that make children who they are.

We love this bright and positive book that celebrates the rainbow of talents that each child brings to the world. With engaging illustrations throughout and a colour palette filled with bright greens and oranges, this is fun and appealing for a range of ages. A beautifully inclusive book that celebrates children being children and all the ways they bring joy to their world. This is a brilliant antidote to the test-driven world todays children are living in.

The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie

Four little girls meet under an apple tree and form a bond that grows as they share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes. This beautifully illustrated tale charts the girls' lives through ups and downs and laughter and tears. Find out how their friendship flourishes as the years pass by and the girls become women.

We love this beautifully diverse and inclusive book celebrating friendship and shared experience. A brilliant book for children of all ages, this is a picture book that offers more as you return to it, with lots of detail in the illustrations and layers in the text. Perfect for PSHE and inclusion.

You can get your copy through our online shop here. 

Billy and the Dragon by Nadia Shireen

Our fearless heroine Billy is back! Whilst at a fancy-dress party, something terrible happens: Billy’s loyal sidekick Fatcat is kidnapped by a fire-breathing dragon. Uh-oh! But luckily for Fatcat, Billy won’t stand for that: off she goes on a brave rescue mission… Join Billy for a fairytale adventure with a twist.

We love Billy and her amazing hair where she keeps all her useful things. We're so glad she's back to inspire more children with her strength and positivity. Full of fun and mild peril, and with Fatcat begrudgingly along for the adventure, young children will be transported to a land of danger and dragons and savage fluffy bunnies. Never too scary, Nadia Shireen cuts through the peril with exquisitely timed humour, creating a brilliantly paced story that will have young children bouncing along in delight.

You can order your copy from our online shop here

The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla

Told over the course of the ten rounds of his first fight, this is the story of amateur boxer Sunny.

A seventeen year old feeling isolated and disconnected in the city he’s just moved to, Sunny joins a boxing club to learn to protect himself after a racist attack.

He finds the community he’s been desperately seeking at the club, and a mentor in trainer Shobu, who helps him find his place in the world.

But racial tensions are rising in the city, and when a Far Right march through Bristol turns violent, Sunny is faced with losing his new best friend Keir to radicalisation. A gripping, life-affirming YA novel about friendship, radicalisation and finding where you belong.

YA books often have a lot to say about the world and our place in it. The Boxer is a beautiful example of this. So much more than a book about a boxing match, it holds equality and respect at its core and brilliantly portrays the self-doubts and uncertainties of a young man navigating his way through trauma-recovery and racism while he fights to understand his own identity.

Relevant, fresh and a thoughtful celebration of self confidence and learning to take up space, The Boxer is an eye-opening look at the positive impact sports can have on mental health and identity. The Boxer is an inclusive and inspiring gem not to be missed.

You can get your copy from our online shop.

The Adventures of Harry Stevenson by Ali Pye

Meet Harry Stevenson. He doesn’t live in a castle, or a witch’s cottage, or anywhere exciting like that.

His home is in a flat with seven-year-old Billy and his mum and dad. And at first glance, Harry doesn’t seem any different from your average guinea pig. He has ginger fur and sparkly black eyes and likes nothing more than snacking on a piece of broccoli.

But don’t be fooled! Harry may just want to sleep and eat (and then eat some more) but somehow he always manages to get swept up in adventures: whether it’s surfing the Pacific on a picnic plate or accidentally attaching himself to a helium balloon.

This bold and brightly illustrated two-adventures-in-one book is a joy to read. Packed full of fun and illustrated throughout, this is a fantastic addition to the early reader genre. With facts and quizzes at the end of the book, it is ideal for children starting to read independently. Great for fans of Pamela Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series.

You can get your copy from our online shop.

BAME female characters in picture books

Yesterday The Guardian shared their research showing that the top 100 illustrated children’s books last year showed growing marginalisation of female and minority ethnic characters.

We take pride in stocking a diverse range of books and work hard to ensure every child can find themselves represented on our shelves. These beautifully diverse and gender-stereotype-squashing books are out there and this article highlights the importance of independent bookshops and booksellers who can get them into children’s hands.

We’ve put together a gallery of fantastic picture books that fit the criteria, available now or being published in the next few months. Look at them all! Aren’t they stunning. We would be very happy to share these books with you and will be adding them to our online shop over the next week. If you would like to order any now, contact us at the shop and we will work our bookseller magic.

Are there any brilliant books you would like to see added to our gallery? Comment on this post or get in touch via social media and share your favourites.