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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...
October 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Follow in Greta Thunberg's footsteps and join the global mission to save our planet from climate change. With in-depth text and data, this necessary and timely book will answer readers' questions on what climate change means, what its consequences will be, and what must be done to protect our world.
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2017 | September 2016 Debut of the Month | From its opening scene aboard an airship harpooned in mid-air, Cogheart is filled with fabulous visual images and a tangible sense of adventure. It follows the story of Lily, whose inventor father is missing, presumed dead after the airship crash. What secrets was he keeping and why are others so determined to find them out? Lily is a great character but readers’ hearts are likely to be won by her companion Malkin, a clockwork fox, one of many automatons created by her father. The story proceeds at speed reaching its climax – where else – but on the face of Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock! The Branford Boase Award Judges' Comments - ‘what he does with the ideas is really good and the world-building is excellent’; ‘children reading this will feel inspired’; ‘imaginative and fun, would make a great film’. This is definitely one for fans of Philip Reeve’s steampunk classic Mortal Engines, and they would also enjoy The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling. ~ Andrea Reece
You can rely on Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet to put a fresh and funny take on the festive season. The creators of Supertato have another surprising, comic central character in this super-silly story: a rogue Christmas tree! All the other houses have a decorated Christmas tree in their window – the one at number 32 is pink – but at number 34 the tree has put its foot down and is refusing to play its part. The baubles are in despair, pleading with it to get into its pot and play its part, to no avail. Fortunately, the tree is as vain as it is stubborn, and not too bright either, and the decorations find a way to trick it into behaving. Where else will you be able to enjoy the sight of baubles and tinsel chasing a Christmas tree round the house? Told in rollicking rhyme this is a Christmas must-have.
December 2019 Book of the Month | ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas …’ but we’re on a snowy hillside where a lonely tree shivers in the cold. As it longs to be in the brightly lit little town below, suddenly footsteps suddenly approach. Somebody very important collects the tree and puts it at the centre of some special celebrations, before leaving with the familiar words: ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Taking inspiration from Clement C Moore’s classic poem, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ new book is filled with the joy of Christmas, and captures all its sense of magical anticipation. In a handsome small format, there’s a full page illustration on each right hand page and they tell the story with as much vivacity as the lines of verse opposite. It all concludes with a sparkling double page spread, the tree glowing in the foreground as St Nick flies off into the Christmas night silhouetted against the moon. If this doesn’t set you up for Christmas and its jollities, nothing will!
We all love strange stories and bizarre, unexplained events: do aliens exist? Are ghosts real? Is the Bermuda Triangle really a thing? Was there actually a curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb? This book examines these four questions, plus another six equally mesmerising, but challenges readers to use logic, intelligence and the facts to determine the truth. Author Kathryn Hulick presents thoroughly researched accounts, packed with information because, as she empahises, evidence is the most important thing. She ensures that the sources are reliable and then encourages readers while keeping an open mind to consider everything really carefully. It makes for a great read, especially when some of those mysteries – the Kraken – turn out to be strange but true. A book that glories in mystery, but also the power of science and human intelligence.
Masterfully melding the contemporary world with a richly evoked fantasy realm, this is a fairy tale re-telling of the finest order. Harper has lived a tough life, what with her mom being sick and her brother forced to take on their absent father’s violent debt collection work. She has cerebral palsy but “can move quickly when I want to”. She’s a fighter too, so when she’s snatched by a stranger and deposited in Ironrose Castle, in the heart of a parallel realm called Emberfall, her captors are thrown off-guard. “Most of the girls Grey drags from her world won’t touch a blade or a bridle,” Prince Rhen observes with admiration. And Rhen has seen plenty of girls in his time. Blighted by a curse inflicted by a spurned enchantress, he’s forever fixed at the age of eighteen until someone truly falls for him. This curse has seen his kingdom all but disintegrate and many die and, if he fails with Harper, Rhen will be “condemned to spend eternity as a monster.” With Harper adamant she’s not going to fall for him and Rhen certain the curse will never be broken, they make a pact: “I’ll help you save your country and you’ll help me get home,” Harper agrees. The road ahead is paved with pulse-quickening perils, alongside Harper’s tortuous conflict between love for her family and doing the right thing in Emberfall, not to mention her growing feelings for Rhen. There’s a tangible frisson between them, but is it love? As time ticks on and the powers of the malevolent enchantress heighten, worlds collide to take the stakes even higher. Replete as it is with romance, relatable coming-of-age conflicts and all-out action, fans of Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas will relish this novel, the first in the Cursebreakers series, and its cliffhanger climax will leave readers aching for the sequel.