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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...
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Thea’s Christmas visit to Norway to try and connect with her absent father, Henry, looks set to be a disaster. Despite her hopes that her father will understand her yearning to be a writer and her need for a typewriter, Henry seems only interested in his new family and his woodwork. All Thea’s hopes are dashed. How she longs to go home to her mum and all their family Christmas traditions. But when Thea befriends a sleeping bear whom she has disturbed she unleashes a wonderful, wintery adventure. Finding friends who understand her love for the bear and her belief that it is harmless, Thea works out an ambitious plan to confuse the hunters and save the bear. The result is a many layered adventure story of courage, love and imagination. You can find more wintry & festive stories in our Best Books for Kids this Christmas collection.
The young person's guide to a plant-based lifestyle | Full of information and sensible advice, this is an excellent guidebook for any young person who is considering turning vegan, or who just wants to cut back on meat and dairy. For one thing, it is packed with delicious and faff-free vegan recipes, easy to follow, easy to make and certain to be a hit with everyone in the family, even dyed-in-the-wool carnivores; but it’s also full of equally useful and appealing information on the whys of being vegan. Niki Webster explains it all in a way that feels friendly and do-able, making sure to answer FAQs on getting enough protein and vitamins as well as on the best vegan substitutes, and laying out clearly, but with a sense of passion, why veganism is about more than just food and diet. The illustrations and design make this look good enough to eat, and it successfully provides lots of food for thought too.
This enchanting reinvention of a Natural History of Fairies written by botanist Professor Elsie Arbour in the 1920s glows with timeless charm and the magic of nature. What’s more, author Emily Hawkins’s message about protecting fairies’ natural habitats has important real-world resonance, such as this: “human actions are putting fairies’ habitats at risk. When forests and woodland are cut down to make space for farmland…then fairies’ homes are destroyed.” Fairy enthusiasts will delight in the detail of the softly-radiant illustrations that present fairy anatomy and life cycles in the manner of natural history books, replete with labels and descriptions. Throughout, the book is suffused with a thrilling feeling that fairies might be found - if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look. The section on language and secret scripts will undoubtedly inspire young readers to write their own fairy codes, while coverage of a huge range of habitats - from meadows, gardens and woodlands, to mountains, marine environments and jungles - gives a satisfying global feel. Alongside providing fairy-lovers with much fodder for exploration, this coverage of habitats, and information on the likes of leaves, plants and animals, might also spark a wider love of nature. Sumptuously presented, with a silk bookmark, and gold edging and cover foil supplementing Jessica Roux’s illustrations, this book’s style is every bit as charming as its content, which makes it a gift to treasure.
A timely return to young teen fiction for Jacqueline Wilson with a sparkling story of first love, finding yourself and coming out, as legislation for more inclusive education, including teaching about LGBT families in primary schools, is due to come into force. Go to Jacqueline's Instagram for Love Frankie videos and links!
Fairy tales vibrantly updated for the 21st century by Blue Peter legend Konnie Huq | Congratulations to Konnie Huq and co-author James Kay who with illustrator Rikin Parekh have taken the best-loved fairy tales, shaken them up, and brought them uproariously into the 21st century. All your favourites are here, recognisable, but turned into something fresh, new and very funny (often with a pointed message or moral). Thus Sleeping Beauty is now Sleeping Brainy, a maths-mad princess who grows up to be the most successful Chancellor of the Exchequer in history, while simultaneously inventing the computer, the internet and Wikipedia (‘all in a good nine thousand six hundred and eighteen days’ work’ she concludes, happily). Pity the three bears who here have to put up with Mouldysocks, a boy too busy playing computer games to tidy up or wash, but cheer for The Pickled Mermaid, who puts her blog out on Plaicebook, Finstagram and Snapperchat, thereby reaching millions of readers and effecting real change on pollution in the oceans. Then there’s Robin Hoodlum and his boss, the Baron of Bottybum; Spinocchio, a TV news anchor; and a surprisingly familiar looking, bad-tempered little orange man called Trumplestiltskin … The stories are told with real dash and energy and will have children and parents alike roaring with laughter.
In a world of dragons, song spells, pipers and battles... Patch Brightwater is a boy in disgrace. Thrown in jail for playing a forbidden spell, he is no one's idea of a hero. But then he discovers a deadly truth - the evil Piper of Hamelyn is on the loose. With the help of Wren, a girl cursed to live as a rat, and Barver, a fire-breathing dracogriff, Patch must stop the Piper sparking the biggest battle of them all. Three accidental heroes versus one legendary villain... an epic adventure is born.