No catches, no fine print just unconditional book loving for your children with their favourites saved to their own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop plus lots lots more...Find out more
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...
February 2021 Book of the Month | Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe. Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence. Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Forna has taken her own experiences of sexism and racism that she experienced as a woman from Sierra Leone living in the US on which to base this novel. This has created a powerful depiction of the oppression and cruelty meted out to women who are different from a society’s accepted roles. Set in the patriarchal fantasy world of Otera, this is based in an ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is only as good as her proven purity. This purity is proven by the woman being made to bleed – in a brutal ceremony when they reach the age of 16. When Deka bleeds gold this is deemed the colour of impurity, and she is declared a demon. Not only is she thrust out of the home and society she has known since birth, but she is also subjected to unspeakable acts of brutality and violence by the ruling priesthood. The fact Deka does not die from all the brutality gives one hope she is different and may have some role in the future of Otera. This proves so – Deka is rescued and taken to a training ground for women where she finds a friendship and sisterhood amongst others also found to be impure. As they train the ‘impure’ girls are paired with soldiers from the Imperial jatu fighting force – and some form deep and lasting friendships with their partners. The characters here are hugely diverse with Black, Asian and Brown main, and minor characters, with a recognition of diverse sexuality too. The power of this novel is in the strong, horrifying but ultimately hopeful end of this story. There is much violence – in both punitive killing and re-killings of demons by the priests, but also in the violent backstories of some of the girls (including an instance of rape.) The book explores themes of feminist possibility whilst being based in a fantasy world taking inspiration from ancient West African culture. A powerful read, not for the faint-hearted but very definitely giving hope for the future, showing that there is a place to be whatever you wish to be – homemaker or fighter. This is a strong start to what promises to be a trilogy.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
From Alex English, author of Sky Pirates, and Ben Cort, illustrator of Aliens Love Underpants and Aliens Love Dinopants comes this all-singing, all-dancing, all-stomping-and-romping rhyming picture book that sees a naughty dinosaur make a whole of lot of mayhem - for an unexpected, touching reason. A little girl is enjoying some extra-special cake in her granny’s kitchen when the walls are set a-trembling by none other than a mighty roaring dinosaur. When the bright, brash brontosaurus speeds off with Gran, the girl scoots after them. The chase takes her through the playground, along the high street, through fields and into the woods, where she loses sight of them and begins to worry they won’t be found before Mummy’s due at 6 o’clock. What can be done? “I WANT MY GRAN!” she cries. When the dinosaur creeps from the trees, he confesses that loneliness had driven him to steal Gran, and so they come to a rather lovely arrangement that keeps everyone happy. With a rousing “STOP THAT DINOSAUR!” refrain to join in with, a thrilling sense of time running out, and lovely messages about making unexpected friends, and all the wonderful things grannies do (read stories, make apple pie, kiss your bruises, hug you when you cry), this is as charming as it’s funny, and a sure-fire read aloud hit.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Scaredy Cat demands they follow his rules or he'll cause all kinds of trouble - knock over lamps, spill kitty litter, and even get them shipped back to the animal shelter! But Pasha and Poop are stubborn and rebellious. They won't follow the Scaredy Cat's ridiculous rules like all of the other pets on the block. Together, they set out to find the truth behind who the Scaredy Cat really is, and how they can end his mischief-making for good.
Filled with curious and intriguing illustrations and with an original text filled with unusual and fascinating facts, this handsome, large format picture book takes a completely new look at vegetables. Accompanying each vegetable, or sometimes a pair of vegetables as with a carrot and a parsnip which are similar although they are described as ‘an odd couple’, there is an elegant text telling something of the history of how each one comes to be on our tables, something of how each one grows and something about the traditions about how we eat them. The delights in this book are perfect for sharing for all ages.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.