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
If you're looking for suitable books for your 11, 12 or 13 year old, our extensive list of expert recommendations is sure to put you in the right direction.
April 2020 Book of the Month | Book 7 Chronicles of Ancient Darkness This seventh book in Michelle Paver’s awe-inspiring Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series that began with Wolf Brother is a triumph of storytelling that myth-loving readers will wolf down (pun entirely intended). The sense of adventure and human spirit is exhilarating, and Paver’s passion for nature, for wildlife, for the world’s wondrous wilds is an immersive joy. Torak and Renn have been in the Forest with their Wolf Brother for two summers when Renn leaves him without word. Though realising that “she would have had to deceive Torak for days into order to prepare for her journey”, accomplished tracker Torak does what he must, and what he does best: he and Wolf embark on a quest to the Edge of the World beyond the Far North to find their friend. Alongside dealing with the ominous threat of ice bears and the “beyond good and evil” Sea Mother, Torak is desperate to discover what drove Renn to this place. The sense of demonic danger is powerfully palpable, the writing rich, yet exquisitely sparse and smoothly readable, and the entirety of this enthralling adventure is laced with an uplifting sense of camaraderie, love and legend.
April 2020 Book of the Month | Twelve-year-old Ross is dealt a devastating blow when he’s told he has an extremely rare form of eye cancer and is likely to lose sight in both eyes. Based on author Rob Harrell’s personal experience of eye cancer, and spiced with his cool comic-strips of Ross’s Battbutt and Batpig characters, Wink has all the freshness and pitch-perfect narrative voice of a Louis Sachar story, with its own unique warmth and wit.As Ross struggles with the strangeness of undergoing immediate radiation treatment, he also faces a terrible time at school. Cruelly called the “Cancer Cowboy” on account of having to wear a hat, he’s also the subject of malicious memes. While Ross’s personal plight is at the huge heart of this novel, it’s equally as powerful in its portrayal of the wider impact of devastating diagnoses, most poignantly when Ross’s friend Isaac distances himself from their Oreo-sealed friendship pact. But as Isaac retreats, he makes life-changing new friends as a result of his treatment. First there’s fellow patient Jerry, a wise-cracking old guy who rebuffs Ross’s desire to be normal. According to Jerry, “Different moves the needle. Different is where the good stuff happens. There’s strength in difference.” Then there’s Frank, the adorable radiation tech guy who teaches Ross to play guitar, which has tear-jerkingly transformational effects.What an authentic, emotional, amusing and all-round awesome read this is.
A brand new stand alone Middle Grade adventure from the author of Sebastian Darke, Philip Caveney. Boy rides across the desert on a 'borrowed' horse. His destination? The great city of Cherabim. He carries with him the Book of Secrets, which contains his late father's brilliant inventions, one of which could change the world forever. But Boy falls in with brigands who rob him and leave him for dead in the harsh desert sands. Then along comes Lexi with her group of eccentric travelling players -and it just so happens they are looking for a new leading man... Can he help them out by starring in their latest show? And can they help him out by tracking down the all important Book of Secrets. A rollicking medieval romp where laughter and action abound in equal measure... and where danger lurks around every corner.
Winnie Foster is in the woods, thinking of running away from home, when she sees a boy drinking from a spring. Winnie wants a drink too, but before she can take a sip, she is kidnapped by the boy, Jesse Tuck, and his family. She learns that the Tuck family are blessed with - or doomed to - eternal life since drinking from the spring, and they wander from place to place trying to live as inconspicuously as they can. Now Winnie knows their secret. But what does immortality really mean? And can the Tucks help her understand before it's too late? A beautiful paperback edition of the unforgettable classic of children's writing about what it truly means to live forever. Featuring illustrations by Melissa Castrillon.
What is art? How does art tell stories? Where do artists get their ideas from? Open this fascinating book to discover explosive ideas, wild colours, unexpected views and amazing works of art by world-famous artists. Includes Usborne Quicklinks to specially selected websites where you can take a virtual tour of a gallery, look at famous paintings up close and much more. Published in association with The National Gallery, London.
A Jack Courtney Adventure : with Chris Wakling | Young readers who want to be gripped, challenged, informed and entertained – this exciting new adventure series is just what you’ve been waiting for. Fourteen-year-old Jack is on a safari holiday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with his parents, the wealthy founders of a conservation charity. His friends Amelia and Xander are on the trip too – so far, so idyllic (though he could do without his arrogant cousin Caleb), but then his parents are kidnapped by mercenaries. Jack has already experienced one family tragedy, he’s determined he’ll prevent another. This is a taut, tightly plotted thriller which puts young people firmly in the driving seat, but there’s lots about family and relationships too. Moreover, the authors will inspire a fascination about the wildlife of the region in readers, and alert them to the threats facing it. Fast-moving adventure with heart and a message. Jack is as appealing a hero as Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider, but the books will also appeal to fans of Gill Lewis’ animal adventures, Gorilla Dawn and The Scarlet Ibis. ****Read a Q&A with Wilbur Smith on his inspiration behind Cloudburst and the different challenges of writing fiction for children.
Dynamic and visually appealing, this book inspires young people to think, not only about the planet and the impact that humanity is having upon it, but also about the ways in which we treat each other. Covering a wide range of the sort of issues that young people are likely to be most concerned about, such as climate change, pollution, animal welfare, gender equality, social justice, homelessness and hunger. Each graphically striking double spread introduces a topic and the issues of concern in a lively and accessible way. Then it introduces the young activists that are making a difference around the world. Greta Thunberg is obviously there in several sections, but over 20 young change-makers from all around the globe are featured. Then there are the pages which suggest ways in which the reader can get involved right now. How they can change their own behaviour and how they can impact upon their home and school. It even has ideas for potential eco-businesses. At the end of the book there is a really comprehensive listing of where to find these featured activists as well as organisations, books, media and websites. There is also very welcome advice on maintaining your own safety and wellbeing – the “Don’t feed the trolls” page of advice for example. A comprehensive index and glossary of terms completes this no-nonsense, non-patronising call to arms. Full of useful information and fascinating life stories this will undoubtedly be regularly picked up by the young readers it is aimed at.
This book offers a fun and quirky introduction to famous artists, writers and scientists, via their pets. We learn a great deal about Sigmund Freud for example through the story of his beloved chow chow Jofi, who was present in his owner’s famous treatment rooms for seven years. Similarly, it’s much easier to identify with Isaac Newton once you know about his little dog, Diamond, or Henri Matisse as you learn about his cats Minouche, Coussi and la Puce. Some of the pets of course are interesting in their own right too – the crocodiles Dorothy Parker kept in her bath, or Charles Dickens’ talking raven Grip, who stars in Barnaby Rudge and also inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. There are full page illustrations of each pet and owner and opposite a page of lively, accessible information about the pair and their relationship. Unusual, handsomely illustrated and inspiring.
Winner of the Newbery Medal | Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize | This is a brilliantly fresh and original story with a puzzle at its heart. When Miranda’s best friend Sal is punched in the stomach by another boy for no apparent reason everything begins to unravel. Where the threads lead and how Miranda follows them is beautifully and simply told despite the fact that the story they tell is complex and thought-provoking. This is a great book.
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2014 - Winner of the 2013 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize | Award-winning Rebecca Stead tells a wonderfully touching story with great sensitivity within an exciting and dramatic adventure. Georges (his unusual name is part of his problem) has just moved to a new apartment block and he immediately gets caught up in a game with Safer, a boy who lives on another floor. Safer’s spying game seems fun and his family, sister Candy and brother Pigeon provide an interesting and supportive alternative home for Georges while things in his own family are out of kilter. But then Georges begins to have his doubts… Gradually everything he has been protecting himself from spins out of control and the reader discovers the sad truth he has been hiding himself from. A very special story that is not to be missed.
It’s October half-term and pop star, TrojKat is filming a music video in the The Tri, the high-rise block home to slueths Nik and Norva. When tragedy strikes the famous singer under mysterious circumstances, Nik and Norva set out to solve the case, with their friend George,and their impressive detective skills. Sequel to High-Rise Mystery, another whodunnit in the phenomenal mystery series by Sharna Jackson.
Narrated by Ivy, the Troofriend 560 Mark IV robot, purchased to be her friend by Sarah’s busy parents instead of the puppy she wished for, means that we have a unique perspective on the story from the very start. Seeing the world through robotic eyes gives rise to lots of humour, but the incredibly subtle changes in Ivy’s language and actions also builds the tension throughout as we can see Ivy beginning to think for herself and as humans, we can recognise her increasingly human reactions and feelings, which are of course forbidden! It is fascinating to see the progress of the public outcry about the dangers of these new robots in the light of the spread of the current pandemic panic. We observe too the changes in Sarah as her empathy and compassion develop. Sarah’s parental neglect and the friendship and self-esteem issues she faces at school will resonate with many children and really engage them with the moral and ethical issues the book raises with such a skilful light touch. The typesetting and use of different fonts for Ivy’s speech and her internal dialogue make this a very accessible and fast paced read and incidentally make it a sure fire hit for a class readaloud if you like doing voices! Just like the authors highly praised debut The Middler, this is a superbly rewarding and highly recommended novel.
Noah loves his new house, he has his own room and he has even made friends at his new school. Noah wants to stay! But that has never happened yet-the supernatural, centuries old curse still follows the Bradley family and every home they have ever lived in is destroyed. He has a duffel bag with his most precious possessions that is never unpacked – just in case. This is an exciting premise that will immediately grip young readers and Noah is a completely believable, modern character with the same issues about fitting in and finding friends, that readers will all recognise and this makes the danger he faces all the more thrilling. When the inevitable disaster strikes, Noah blames himself for ignoring the warning signs and with his father away and his mother in hospital it is up to him to continue his mother’s quest to find the other Bradley’s and the magical objects which together could break the curse. One of the delights of this fast-paced adventure is the characterisation of Noah, his younger brother Billy and of Neena- the neighbour who is a social outcast at school but a brave, resourceful and true friend. Noah’s growing maturity allows him to see her true value as well as recognise his own failings. This highly readable tale really does have the perfect blend of social realism, thrilling adventure and a supernatural mystery to solve.
March 2020 Book of the Month | The novel of The Crossover is a Newberry Medal Winner, and a Coretta Scott King Award Winner in the US and was Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in the UK. This graphic novel version is the whole story complete with large and small two-coloured illustrations gracing every page. This is a deceptively simple read – a novel in verse about siblings getting through middle school, their lives, their crushes, their family interactions, and basketball. The boys are twins Josh and Jordan Bell, sons of a famous basketball player, and aiming to make a mark in the world of basketball. There are rivalries between the boys, they revel in their differences, but family holds them together whatever the world throws at them. The words and pictures work so well together, you will be on the edge of your seat, rooting for the team as they play and crying with the twins when thigs go awry. To tell such a complex story with so few words, with such emotional depth – Alexander is a master of devastating and uplifting storytelling. Anyabwile’s illustrations enhance a superb story – adding expressions and movement to an already great novel.
The Adventures of Vince the Cat - Vince discovers the Golden Triangle is the second book in the Catnap Stories series by Heidi Bryant. In it Vince goes on a magical adventure with his owner and her friend Jon to the ancient and beautiful land of India. Flying in to Delhi airport, the trio are soon joined by local feline, Anoushka, as they embark on their voyage of discovery by train around the 'Golden Triangle'. Their journey takes in some of the country's most famous landmarks - the Taj Mahal in Agra and the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, as well as sampling some fantastic local cuisine, taking part in the colourful Hindu festival of Holi and viewing the rich and varied wildlife, including the endangered tigers. They also have the opportunity to play elephant polo and, of course, to shop! What really makes this book stand out, though, are the vibrant and exciting illustrations from the Prayan Animation Studio. Cleverly interwoven with the text, the pictures give a real flavour of the Indian way of life. And also coming through strongly is the author's obvious and deep affection for cats. I think that most children of 4 to 8 years old would really love this story, the text is straightforward and manageable and the illustrations detailed with many talking points. Thoroughly recommended. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Delving deep into Paris and Prague, and teeming with tension, automatons and assassins, Damien Love’s Monstrous Devices is an atmospheric, adventure-packed debut, which will surely appeal to fans of Jonathan Stroud’s immersive, multi-layered novels. Bookish twelve-year-old Alex’s story begins with him enduring nasty messages from bullies at school, and then he receives a tin robot in the post, accompanied by a mysterious message that reads, “This one is special”. Next morning, his unfinished essay has been completed and, on cue, as matters take an alarming turn, Alex’s charismatic grandfather appears and whisks him away to Paris as a matter of urgency. Little by little, and in cryptic terms, Alex’s grandfather reveals details of a secret world of robots that sees them journey from Paris to Prague to combat mechanical menaces. Interweaving the Czech origin of the word ‘robot’ (meaning ‘forced labour’ and derived from Karel Čapek’s ‘RUR’ play), and Prague’s 16th century legend of the golem (a man made from clay created to protect the city’s Jewish Quarter) with contemporary pace and punch, this feels at once timeless and of the 21st century.
Not since Adrian Mole opened his diary have the thoughts and innermost feelings of an adolescent boy been examined so precisely or with such heart. Stan is twelve, shy and a worrier, so the thought of a holiday in Italy with his friend Felix and Felix’s family freaks him out. He’s going though: we meet him at the airport drawing up a ‘duck-it’ list of things he hopes he’ll never have to do. Little does he know that he’ll tick off six out of ten of them on his holiday, and enjoy it too. The first-person narrative lets us in on all Stan’s thoughts, but he’s a good observer of others so we learn loads about the others in the holiday party too, kids and grown-ups. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and moments of pure agony, and through it all Stan is learning loads about himself and life in general. Honest, revealing, compassionate and so entertaining, this is a must read for all the Stans out there – adults, give yourselves a treat and read it too.
“Don’t take things for granted – challenge everything. That means challenging big business and your governments and, most of all, challenging yourself to act now and save the planet,” so writes activist author Blue Sandford, the seventeen-year-old founding member of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, in her inspiring call-to-action introduction to Challenge Everything. The only official handbook from Extinction Rebellion, this youth-driven, youth-oriented manifesto speaks loud and clear to the legions of young people who feel disenchanted with world leaders, and angry at the greed of big business dictating the downward direction of the world, all enhanced by strikingly designed slogans and illustrations. At the book’s heart is the powerful message that, “you are responsible for your own actions.” For example, “every time you take an uber, go on holiday on a plane, buy new trainers, even turn on the lights and heating, you’re contributing to climate and ecological collapse, you’re indirectly destroying rainforests and wildernesses.” This is typical of the book’s punch-packing perspective. Above all else, the author seeks to empower her readers with a change of mindset, one that challenges all aspects of the status quo, with the ultimate aim of saving the planet. Covering everything from the destructive effects of flying and the fast fashion industry, to the importance of re-wilding and reconnecting with nature, this potently persuasive manifesto also has a powerful practical emphasis, with details on the forms challenges might take, such as boycotting, non-violent direct action, campaigning and government lobbying.
Teeming with drama and compelling code-cracking action, this WWII thriller is driven by the lives of three young people determined to make their mark on the war effort, and by the life-affirming relationship between fifteen-year-old Louisa and the elderly woman she’s employed to look after. Aspiring pilot Louisa is alone in the world. Her white English mother was killed in a London bomb blast, and her black Jamaican dad died on a ship that was torpedoed only three days after her mother died. Through her grief brave Louisa “burns to fight back” and takes a job looking after Jane, an elderly German woman who’s been imprisoned in an alien detainment camp. While travelling to stay with Jane’s niece in her Scottish pub, they form a beautiful bond, finding common ground in their love of music and the fact that they’re both outsiders in Britain - Jane because she’s German, and Louisa because she’s mixed race and subjected to racism. In Scotland they meet fellow outsider, Ellen, a driver for the local RAF airfield who tries to hide her traveller heritage. Ellen’s active role makes Louisa more determined to do something herself, so she takes her chance when a German defector lands at the airfield and leaves a codebreaking Enigma machine. It’s not long before Louisa, Ellen and young flight lieutenant Jamie step-up their war efforts, as their story builds to an impeccably conducted, pulse-quickening crescendo. Alongside being a gripping thriller, this is a truly moving, inspirational novel. Louisa’s passion for music and learning, her wit and ambition, are exhilaratingly infectious. I’d love to know what she does next.
'Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more powerful than a child in possession of a plan.' Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world's weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic? Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this magical series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered...
This was an interesting book which reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series. The storyline is very original, although I did find it rather lengthy and a bit complex at times: it might be difficult for some children to keep up with all the characters and the action. However, despite its complexity, it is very well-written. I like that the main character, Cricket, is different, and that her difference helps her in her quest. I think children will relate to the friendship between Cricket and her friend Penny who are likeable characters. Penny understands that Cricket is different from the other children but celebrates this difference with Cricket. Each chapter is illustrated and I love these, they are so detailed and original. I'm sure this book will appeal to its target audience and I think it will easily widen out into a series of adventures for Cricket and Penny. Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Fizzlebert Stump’s Circus is back for a second riotous show during which everything can – and does – go terribly wrong. The new act features the very, very hairy Barboozul family which includes Wystan, the bearded son. Fizzlebert - his mum is a clown and dad is a strongman - is used to oddities but he has never come across a bearded boy. Will the two become friends? Many strange things happen at the Circus before anything as obvious as that happens in a delightfully chaotic and imaginative romp. This is Fizzlebert Stump’s second adventure - which began with Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library).
Set in a distant future on the romantic sounding Crescent Moon Bay in Australia, Somper’s story exuberantly and swashbucklingly combines two fiction favourites – pirates and vampires, and challenges our views of both. Twins Connor and Grace are left alone in the world when their lighthouse keeper father dies. They take his boat and head out to sea, only to run into a storm. Both are plucked from the ocean – Connor by pirates, Grace by the crew of a strange vessel – vampires! The action alternates between the two as secrets emerge, before the twins are reunited, but set for more adventure. With a wonderful cast of characters, some fabulous set scenes, and clever plotting, this is a hugely entertaining read and highly recommended, whether you’re team Pirates of the Caribbean or team Twilight!
The third in a sequence of stand-alone historical novels, set at key points in the history of the divided island that is currently front and centre in Brexit negotiations, this could not be more topical and very possibly prescient in describing the situation in 1921 and the partition of Northern Ireland and the hard border which quite literally fractures communities. The author talks in the end pages of the book about growing up in this border area with the army and customs check points and how much the community enjoys today’s freedom of movement and is terrified of losing that. But this beautifully written novel is not an ‘issue’ novel, it is full of brilliantly realised characters and a pitch perfect evocation of the period. The story of the bold 14-year-old heroine, Polly and her struggles to find her way forward in life cleverly mirrors the struggles of the newly emerging country. She ran away to Belfast to escape of life of drudgery looking after the men in her family after her mother’s death from influenza. She finds refuge in Helen’s Hope, a feminist hostel where young women live and work together, a haven of tolerance and diversity in an area wracked with division and hatred. The non-partisan mission of this hostel sums up the greatest strength of this fascinating and moving novel in that it absolutely does not demonise either side, while being completely up front about the terrible things that are happening. There are bad, mean and cruel characters but this is not because of the ideologies they follow, but because some people are like that, and we even get insights into why that might be. The second book in this sequence, Star by Star, went on to become the best selling book ever from this small imprint and won Children’s Books Ireland’s Honour Award for Fiction 2018. I can see similar accolades for this ‘sister’ novel and can highly recommend all three (the first being Name Upon Name) as invaluable purchases to support the history curriculum, but absolutely as engaging reads for pleasure too.
Read this book and you will see flowers with quite different eyes. That’s its intention, as laid out in the introduction, and one it achieves quite brilliantly. Seventeen flowers are featured, most familiar to us all (dandelion, thistle, poppy, marigold), full colour, full page illustrations opposite a page of text. The text gives us size and appearance, where the plant grows, but also includes bits of history and folklore plus information on medicinal properties and how the plant has been used to heal over the centuries. Fascinating stuff, and you get a strong sense of the author’s expertise and enthusiasm. The illustrations are just as special, stylized, folk-art inspired images of the flowers with figures or birds and insects. Beautiful and mind-expanding.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | Taking a philosophical approach, this is a comprehensive look at the challenging question: What is Time? Having posed the question, author and illustrator Kathrin Köller and Irmela Schautz take readers through the past and present stories, myths and symbols of time from around the world which help to explain some of the mysteries which we all experience. These set the scene for a detailed look at the realities of how time is recorded and counted before closing with a section on travelling through time as in across time zones and in futuristic fantasies. Rich in detail and fully illustrated this is a sophisticated and complex book that will repay very many readings and re-readings.
The reading world now lies wide open.
Individual choices of genre become more significant as readers become more discriminating. Readers develop their critical faculties as they weave their way towards the kind of readers they are growing into.
You could also check out our latest highlights such as 'new voices', which showcases some of the brightest new talent from Walker Books, or our 'prizewinners' section where we can help you and your child discover authors currently in contention for and/or winners of the most prestigious awards.