14 of the best books for children for summer 2014

Viva Alice - summer reads 2014
Make this summer a fiction-packed break with our pick of the best kids' books to read on the beach, by a lake, up a mountain, in a tent or just in your own back garden! From laugh-out-loud adventures to murder mysteries and junior chick lit, we've got great suggestions for every genre and every child.
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The epic adventure

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt (Pushkin, £7.99)
A classic of European children's literature and international best-seller, published for the first time in English in 2013, this is the gripping tale of a squire, a dangerous mission and a kingdom in peril. Set off on an adventure through forests, across mountain ridges and along the Rainbow River, long ago when knights still roamed the land...
 
   

The supernatural chiller

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Corgi, £7.99)
London is a city stalked by spectres, and brave agent Lucy Carlyle is up against dangerous apparitions as the newest member of Lockwood & Co, a ramshackle psychic detective agency. Chilling and suspenseful... will you dare read it after dark?
  
  

The laugh-out-loud comic memoir

Daisy and the Trouble with Sports Day by Kes Gray (Red Fox, £5.99)
"Athletes on the telly say that if you want to come first in a race then you have to get 'in the zone'. The only zone I ended up in after Sports Day was the Headmaster's office."
Daisy's back... and this time she's competing in her school sports day, with predictably disastrous results. A very funny choice for newly-independent readers (and there are lots of other books in the series if your child is hooked!).
 
   

The adventure in space and time

George and the Unbreakable Code by Lucy & Stephen Hawking (Random House, £12.99)
A brilliant blend of adventure and science. Stephen Hawking and his daughter's "George" space stories explain complex cosmology to young readers with illustrations and Dr Who-like escapades. In George and the Unbreakable Code the world's biggest and best computers have been hacked... can George and Annie find out who is behind it – and where in space they're hiding?
      
  

The junior chick lit read

Hattie B, Magical Vet: The Dragon's Song by Claire Taylor-Smith (Puffin, £4.99)
A brand new series about magical creatures and the brave, resourceful human girl who helps them stand up to wicked King Ivar. Mythical adventure for readers aged 7+,  with three more books in the series already confirmed.
 
   

The historical caper

Diary of Dorkius Maximus in Pompeii by Tim Collins (Buster Books, £7.99 )
Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid will love the adventures of Dorkius Maximus, a Roman boy who's planning to become a great hero... just as soon as his friends stop picking on him and his family start listening to him! In this, his third adventure, Dorkius is spending a boring summer in sleepy Pompeii when the local volcano starts making some distinctly demonic rumbles...
    
  

The BFF memoir

Viva Alice! by Judi Curtin (O'Brien, £6.99)
A story of friendship, growing up and holiday fun from Ireland's most popular author for girls, Judi Curtin. Viva Alice! is the eighth book in the Alice and Megan series, perfect for girls aged 9+ who've run out of Jacqueline Wilson books and need a thoroughly enjoyable new best-friends read to enjoy.
 
   

The modern classic

Mrs Frisby and the rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien (Puffin, £6.99)
Re-issued for a new generation, Mrs Frisby and the rats of NIMH won the Newbery Medal and tells the story of rats who are not like other rats... Mrs Frisby, a mouse, needs their help to save her son Timothy, and before she knows it she finds herself flying on a crow's back, slipping sleeping powder into a ferocious cat's dinner dish, and helping brilliant, laboratory-enhanced rats escape to their very own utopia.

    
  

The non-fiction survival manual

Danger is everywhere (Puffin, £7.99)
Do you have what it takes to be a dangerologist? Every kind of everyday danger is analysed and averted in this laugh-out-loud illustrated manual, packed with tips to help amateur dangerologists stay safe in supermarkets, in gardens, on wheels and in snow (the most dangerous substance known to man). Beware!
 
   

The best beach read

Sweet Honey by Cathy Cassidy (Puffin, £12.99)
Honey Tanberry moves to Australia to live with her dad, but school is very different to what she's been used to in England, and it's hard to know who to trust, in real life and online. The latest instalment in the Chocolate Box Girls series, Sweet Honey covers cyber-bullying, new beginnings and growing up with warmth and understanding. 
    
  
The slapstick comedy

Kidnapped! The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour-Dog's Sizzling Summer by Jeremy Strong (Puffin, £5.99)


The hundredth book from the King of Children's Comedy, Jeremy Strong. Streaker, the wacky Hundred-Mile-An-Hour-Dog, is on her summer holidays and hysterical mishaps can't be far behind. Expect plenty of giggling from readers aged 7+!
  
The girl-detective mystery

Murder most unladylike by Robin Stevens (Corgi, £6.99)


There haven't been many truly exciting mysteries for Dairy and Hazel's secret detective agency to investigate at Deepdean School for Girls, until the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, is found dead in the Gym. Yet five minutes later her body has disappeared, and the agency is faced with proving the murder even took place before they can solve the crime...
  
The poo-filled picture book

The dinosaur that pooped the past! by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter
(Random House, £6.99)


From the creators of the super-popular The dinosaur that pooped Christmas comes a new, toilet-humour-filled adventure that's sure to appeal to young readers )and their younge siblings). We love the rhyming text, colourful illustrations and (of course) the smelly, explosive eruptions.
  
The super-cool graphic novel

Flora & Ulysses The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Walker Books, £6.99)


Like all the best superhero stories, it begins with a tragic accident (a squirrel being almost consumed by a vacuum cleaner) that results in unexpected consequences (misspelled poetry, among other things)... A heart-warming adventure told with a mixture of text and comic-style graphic novel, making it perfect for more reluctant readers.