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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 funny story told in gentle rhyme from multi-award winner Jeanne Willis about a little girl who finds a baby Martian – and her hilarious struggles to get him to go to the loo in the right place! Almost every receptacle you can imagine is explored – kitchen bin, cowboy hat, bird bath to name but a few – with varying degrees of success and failure, but a great deal of fun! There’s even a Toilet Song to help get things in the right order. With some laughter causing disasters before final success this is a lovely way to underscore the message about Toilet Training for Reception children who may be struggling. Hrefna Bragadottir was longlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize – and you can really appreciate why with her softly coloured action-packed illustrations. This is a fun read for all very young children on an important life lesson!
It’s more than 150 years since the publication of Alice in Wonderland and it is delighting today’s readers as much as it ever has. Both a tribute to and a celebration of Lewis Carroll’s story, this collection includes new adventures by eleven favourite contemporary children’s authors, each of whom has been inspired by Alice. With such an extraordinary set of characters and scenes to take as starting points, the stories are wonderfully varied. Pamela Butchart chooses to write about the Queen of Hearts in a follow up story, while Swapna Haddow picks the Mock Turtle. There’s an environmental message in Lauren St John’s lively story ‘Plum Cakes at Dawn’, while Robin Stevens puts the real Alice into her Oxford set story. Together they make for a sparkling collection, one well worth tumbling back down the rabbit hole to enjoy.
What a luminously life-enhancing read this is. The story of ADHD afflicted underdog Felix, who “can’t concentrate or keep still”. His East German Granddad now (embarrassingly) drives the pink car that used to belong to his deceased Grandma, whose death has hit them all hard. Felix and Granddad’s grief is laid bare with heart-wrenching authenticity, but theirs is a complex relationship: “I love my granddad and I think he loves me, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.” After an altercation, Felix and Granddad forge an understanding, and look forward to a “neuangfang” (new start) that begins with a list of “Ten things I’d like to teach Felix”. Unfortunately, in Felix’s eyes Granddad’s list comprises the “ten more boring things in the world”, but Felix works through it until only the most dreaded activity remains - playing chess. He tries to wriggle out of it, but “crafty” Granddad has been surreptitiously teaching Felix chess skills and he’s soon hooked by the game, with unexpected positive side effects. A thrilling team tournament is followed waves of pulse-quickening twists that will thrust readers to the edge of their seats, heart in mouth. Throughout, the rollercoaster ride of primary school life - fallings out, friendship, fear of not fitting in - is explored in all its intense and comic complexity, and the representation of working class realisms is spot-on too. Felix’s mum and dad have both been “working stacks since Dad’s plumbing business went bust last year”. But, best of all, the magic of the relationship between children and their grandparents is dazzlingly conjured. I adored it.
July 2019 Book of the Month | A beautifully told, deeply moving story about how a boy finds a special way of remembering his soldier father. When Owen’s father dies fighting in Syria he finds himself caring for his mum who isn’t coping well. School becomes a struggle as he doesn’t want to tell anyone but he finds comfort and refuge in the local memorial garden when there is a crumbing statue as a memorial to those who died in the First World War. When the council decide to remodel the garden and remove the statue Owen knows that he must take dramatic action. And fast. Luckily, he gets the chance to write a poem for the opening of his school’s new library. Owen’s poem captures the importance of remembering while his presentation of it and the effect it has on the council brings him resolution. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Here’s another laugh-out-loud adventure story starring everyone’s favourite caped potato superhero. It’s carnival time in the supermarket and all the veggies are lending a hand except – you guessed it – Evil Pea. He’s determined to suck all the fun and the colour from the carnival – literally, with his dastardly Colour-Suck-A-Thon-5000 machine. Can Supertato save the day? You betcha! Adventures don’t come dafter or more colourful and this is premium entertainment for all the family.
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