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25Feb

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

Two vivid picture books from noted poets – plus Loki’s secret diary, the return of Mayor Bunny, and the pick of the new middle-grade and YA fiction

Don’t Ask the Dragon by Lemn Sissay and Greg Stobbs (Canongate, £12.99)
In poet Lemn Sissay’s debut picture book, little Alem, alone on his birthday, wonders where he can call home – but bears, foxes and assorted wildlife all tell him just one thing: not to ask the dragon. A warm-hearted, richly coloured, peril-spiced quest, culminating in the poignant realisation that “home was always inside him”.

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar (Walker, £7.99)
Another first picture book from an acclaimed poet, in which a small bear is baffled by people asking “Can bears ski?” until he visits an audiologist, and discovers they were really saying: “Can you hear me?” Drawing vividly on Antrobus’s childhood experience with undiagnosed deafness, this new paperback edition comes with a BSL alphabet, as well as Polly Dunbar’s inimitably cuddly illustrations.

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