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Each week our team of book lovers choose a selection of books they have loved and think deserve an extra shout out. Everyone fights to get theirs on the list. Here are this week’s faves...
January 2022 Debut of the Month | Inventors don’t come much more inventive than young Leonora Bolt. In her home on remote Crabby Island, shared with her otter Twitchy, eccentric housekeeper Mildred and (occasionally) with her nasty Uncle Lester, Leonora comes up with all sorts of amazing gadgets and most astonishing of all is the Switcheroo, which can make objects swap places, via a nifty bit of quantum computing. Despite her brilliance, Leonora has never yet left the island and Uncle Luther seems determined to keep it that way. When a boy called Jack is washed up though, Leonora has to help and in the process she discovers secrets her uncle was keeping (we knew he was a bad un!). The story is full of fun and surprises, plus a fair bit of tension: will Leonora escape the island and Uncle Luther? Were her parents really lost at sea? Favourite scenes include a ride in a hot air balloon, suspended from a wonderful variety of inflatables, and another in the stinkiest cave in fiction. Lots of fun, this is one to recommend to readers who like their adventures wild, wacky and full of invention(s).
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | A hungry monster opens the fridge but there is nothing there! Luckily, he has a phone and the number to ring for a pizza so he knows he won’t be hungry for long. But it takes several miss-placed calls answered by a range of unlikely pizza providers before he finds just what he is looking for. And even when the pizza does arrive the Monster doesn’t get what he is expecting! Just a few words and spreads of highly dramatic illustrations ensure this book will be highly entertaining for young readers.
This is the third book about Stanley Bradshaw and his classmates in 4B, also known as ‘LITERALLY the worst class in the world’ by their headmistress Mrs Bottomley-Blunt. Once again, Stanley and co indulge in the sort of behaviour that tests their teacher Mr Nidgett to the limit, whether dealing with an outbreak of nits (a great way of being sent home as Stanley and his friend Manjit see it, thereby escaping Maths Test Tuesday) or facing the terrible dares set by new girl Bridget Pickersgill. By the end of the book, Mrs Bottomley-Blunt’s laminated list of rules has grown to 125 and includes: ‘no eating Very Dead Flies’, ‘no painting yourself blue’, and ‘no claiming Mrs Bottomley-Blunt is a MOOGOL’. The stories are perfect for children reading independently, not just because of their short sentences, many pictures and neat repetition of words and phrases, but because they are absolutely hilarious, and also wonderfully true to life. Full of the kind of absurdity that young children generate without even trying, they’re full of joy as well as humour.
Dooley is an Irish autistic author and illustrator who writes with authority, empathy and humour about the world as viewed by Frankie. Frankie believes she is an alien; she is the smallest person in her class – and she is accused of talking too much! But really all she is different – neurodivergent, though it is not until nearly the end of the book that Frankie gets an insight into why she views things differently. Frankie’s Dad left when she was a baby and she, with friend Sam, decide to track him down. I found it refreshing that Sam is wheelchair bound but that no reference is made to this. This book so easy to relate to – the world from a child’s point of view is such a confusing place – but this helps us all see how it may be even more confusing if one’s reactions are different from other people. Plus, if we all give time and some empathy, we may be in a better position to befriend and understand. This sounds as if the book is preaching to us – it is most definitely not – it is a delight to read - funny, sympathetic, and ultimately uplifting. Drawn in a very simple two-colour cartoon style it should be easily accessible across a range of readers. Highly recommended for all readers offering perspective on autism whilst maintaining care and affection for the protagonists.
Máire Zepf’s Rita picture books cleverly blend celebrating children’s unbridled imaginations with inviting them to reflect and empower themselves. In this case, while playing hide-and-seek, Rita is struck by a desire to have her very own ninja. After all, “a ninja is silent, fast and invisible”, a “ninja master would teach Rita the art of invisibility” - what better skills for a lover of hide-and-seek? Then, on reflection, Rita considers the fact that ninjas are sneaky, they like fighting, and they might even steal something (or someone…) she loves. So, she decides to be her own master instead! Sparked by the author’s classroom experiences, and illustrated with verve by Andrew Whitson (better known as Mr Ando), this provides plenty of thought-provoking fun for 3+ year-olds.
Mysteries pile up on top of one another in Cookie’s latest hilarious adventure. There are numerous secrets to uncover, several codes to crack, a number of unusual occurrences and a very important Nani who arrives from Bangladesh for a visit. Underlying all the gripping mystery and the comedy there is a simple message about the importance of both arts and science in school. Konnie Huq’s fast-paced story is brilliantly brought to life in her witty line illustrations which have a raft of jokes all of their own. With lots of additional information about codes as well as instructions on some of the things Cookie loves to make, this is a book to return to again and again. Konnie Huq was our Guest Editor in September 2021 - find out more about the Cookie series and her top children's book recommendations!
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