Children’s Books in 2019: Peek A Book’s top picks for 10-12 year olds


The world though books in 2019 as seen through children’s books was a fascinating one. Internationally, books reflected changing societies and issues that affect the lives of children. Characters, settings or stories touched up a wide variety of themes from racial discrimination to mental health. In India, storytelling became more innovative and non-fiction, more creative. Here are Peek A Book’s favs of 2019.

In 2019 two fabulous writers Katherine Rundell and Francis Hardinge were back with great books.

The Good Thieves (Bloomsbury), set in 1920s New York is a fast-paced adventure through the city with young Vita and her three intrepid, if slightly dubious friends. Their goal? To bring a notorious conman who has swindled Vita’s grandfather of his possessions, to justice. Written in Rundell’s inimitable style, with quirky loveable characters and great atmosphere.

Costa Award winner Hardinge, is in her element marrying fantasy with adventure in Deeplight (Pan Macmillian). Hark and his friend Jelt live on an island by a seas that once churned with the wrath of the under-sea gods who destroyed each other. But now the sea is once more stirring as something rises beneath the waves. Should Hark and Jelt heed the call? Then again, some things are left well alone.

While on adventures, one of the most unputdownable books for 10-11 year-olds this year was All of Me by Venita Coelho (Harper Collins India). This is Victorian London. The year, 1854. Eleven-year-old Castor has been locked away in a basement by his uncle for five years – he’s not alone, but accompanied by his “family.” When Castor managed to get out he finds that there is more danger without than within the cellar. He unwittingly gets embroiled in the search for the great Kohinoor diamond, gets tangled with a shadowy secret society, and runs into all kinds of people from royalty to common thieves.

Best-selling author Raina Telgemeier’s third graphic novel, Guts (Scholastic), came out – and didn’t disappoint. She continues to explore the trials and tribulations of middle school with one more complication – a case of full blown anxiety.

Depression is also the underlying feature in the poignant All the Grey’s on Greene Street Laura Tucker (Viking). Twelve-year-old Ollie’s dad has suddenly and secretly gone away to France and her mom cannot seem to get out of bed. This is a story of family, friendships, depression, and the healing power of art against the diverse backdrop of New York in the ’80s.

Arun is 7 years old and for the first time in his life has come into contact with a father he has never known. Balaji Venkatraman’s Pops (Duckbill) is a poignant, yet funny look at the child caught in the problematic relationships of adults.

Credit: This list was thoughtfully put together for you by: Lubaina Bandukwala, Curator Peek A Book Literature Festival for Children

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