Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

The year’s best children’s books, featuring animals real and imaginary

There are wolves, bats, 101 dogs and Maggie O’Farrell’s Nouka – an adorable black ball of fluff with big green eyes

Bracco Italiano and Irish Wolfhound. From 101 Dogs, by Nicola Jane Swinney, illustrated by Romy Blümel. [Big Picture Press]

It’s not often that my tastes are validated by Netflix, but Jonathan Stroud’s brilliant series about teenage ghost hunters, Lockwood & Co., is being turned into a series. If you haven’t read it, give it a go. The mordant talking skull alone is worth it. Stroud has already embarked on another series about a tough nut sharp-shooter, Scarlett, and her amiable sidekick, Albert Browne, who, handily, can read or sieve minds.

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