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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.
This little volume is just the right size to fit into a pocket or backpack and it’s well worth young readers keeping it to hand at all times as it’s packed with advice on ways to be more green. Chapters include ‘Do You Live in a Green House?’, ‘Shopping for the Planet’ and ‘Stop Polluting the Planet’ and after describing the impact of the ways of life we all take for granted, they list things we can easily do to make a difference. These ‘over to you’ sections are practical, do-able and empowering. There’s a list of websites to visit at the end to find out more, as well as Planet Pledges to sign – one for the reader, one for the reader’s family. Accessible, informative and positive, this is a great book for anyone who cares about the future of our planet and highly recommended.
Translated by the award winning Laura Watkinson | Available for the first time in the UK, this new translation is a real treat for fans of the breakout sensation Letters For the King, which brought the multimillion bestselling Dutch author Tonke Dragt to the attention of a UK audience for the first time and which then went on to win Children’s Book of the Year. Since then translator Laura Watkinson has continued her mission to bring us more of the award-winning author’s books. Written as twelve tales, the story of identical twins Laurenzo and Joacomo is perfectly suited to reading and sharing over the twelve days of Christmas! Each tale is a complete and satisfying adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world created so vividly in the Dragt books. The boys may be so identical that they can take turns to go to school, but they have very different talents and temperaments. Hard-working Laurenzo wants to make beautiful things and becomes a goldsmith; Jiacomo loves travel and adventure and in one tale is tempted to use his wiles to become an excellent thief. Although he gives up the immoral life, his skills come in very useful as from a case of mistaken identity involving the Knight of the Red Rose to the pursuit of the precious silver cups of Talamura, the brothers find themselves caught up in wild adventures that require all of their combined wisdom and cunning. A highly satisfying and totally absorbing read with prose that would be a joy to read aloud in class too.
December 2019 YA Debut of the Month | This compelling, nuanced tale is set in the town of Lucille in a future society where evil, the ‘monsters’, have been eliminated in an epic struggle by the ‘angels’ to create a better world for their children to grow up in. Jam, our selectively-nonverbal, black, trans heroine, is one of those children. When she accidentally spills her blood onto her mother’s painting, a creature called Pet emerges. Looking like a monster but here to hunt a monster preying on the family of her best friend, a boy named Redemption. But the identities of the victim and the predator are still unknown and Jam and Redemption have to face what their society fails to acknowledge: that monsters exist and hide in plain sight- that evil still resides in humanity. One of the huge strengths of this book is that Jam’s trans status is not there to score diversity points. The story does not centre around gender identity, but also does not ignore the impact upon the character and plot in a very natural, unforced way. Dialogue is used extremely creatively too. Emezi Jam speaks aloud in quotation marks and sign language is indicated with italics and when Jam and Pet speak telepathically, Emezi uses no punctuation marks whatsoever. On top of that, dialects, phrases, and cultural traditions from across African American communities appear throughout, giving a real flavour and authenticity to the narrative. Emezi has spoken of her inspiration being teenagers discomforted by the monsters in plain sight in our current society. This is a thought-provoking reading experience that could inspire valuable discussion in a lot of classroom contexts.
Heidi and her friend, Adele go on a short trip to Seville and take their cat Vince with them. We are taken around the city and shown the usual tourist sites and do the usual tourist activities. It's a sort of youngsters travel book. Quite a bit of Spanish is spoken when in conversation with the locals, and I was pleased and relieved to see, at the back of the book, a translation of all the phrases. This is a great book for children learning Spanish at primary or early secondary school level. It's well set out in a situation type story and the illustrations show clearly the types of buildings and street scenes we would see in Seville. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | Debut of the Month December 2019 | Winner of the 2017 Time/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition | From debut author Jasbinder Bilan comes a thrilling adventure across contemporary India, embroiled in mysticism and magic. Jasbinder’s first novel draws on the rich heritage of her family history to create a story which celebrates cultural diversity, the importance of family, and the strength of friendship.
Lily, the girl with the clockwork heart is one of the most vivacious, engaging characters in modern children’s books and it’s great to have her back with her friends Robert and Malkin the mechanimal fox in this new story where, once again, her unique nature sees her plunged into adventure. The action takes place in a travelling skycircus, with a great cast of characters and there’s a surprise return for the villainous Verdigris. Kidnapped and imprisoned, Lily meets other hybrids – children who like her have mechanical parts. All of them are treated cruelly and tormented as freaks, but Lily is able to change things thanks to what makes her tick: courage, generosity and an ability to accept people as they are. The plot sweeps along with the speed of a trapeze artist on a downward swing and it’s a terrific read that leaves readers with something to think about too. Lily’s next adventure can’t come soon enough.
December 2019 Book of the Month | Set in 1912, this action-packed adventure feels both classic and contemporary, with Marina, its young heroine, yearning to break free from societal constraints to become the “new woman” she’s read about in modern magazines. Namely, the kind of woman who is “mistress of her own destiny”. Frustratingly, Marina’s father dismisses her desires outright. Being a naval captain he’s often away at sea and, with her mother gone, Marina is about to be shipped off to boarding school when all she really wants to do is set sail with her dad. So much so, Marina ends up stowing away on his ship. As his mission is vitally urgent, Captain Denham has little choice but to continue with Marina aboard. As their perilous voyage progresses, the thrilling dangers of enemy sightings, superstitious shipmates and icebergs are interlaced with myth and mystery as Marina feels an inexplicable “urgent tugging in her chest to go north” after being accused of possessing the power to “call up storms”. Indeed, Marina’s affinity with the sea adds an extra edge of intrigue throughout, leading to an eerie explanation as the novel twists and swells to its pulse-quickening crescendo.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | A fast-paced read packed with historical detail In the Shadow of Heroes is a clever blend of intrigue, politics, crime, history and a bit of fantasy. Set in Rome at the time of Emperor Nero, it weaves some Greek mythology – the tale of the Golden Fleece – into the world of the Roman elite. When unexpected visitors turn up at Tullus’s house one night, his slave Cadmus, an educated boy slave who was taken in by Tullus after having been abandoned as a baby, knows that something dangerous is afoot. The visitors bring a box with something that is clearly very desirable in it. What can it be? When Tullus disappears and Cadman is given a message by a slave who was formerly a British princess he set off on a trail to find out what is going on. The plot is twisty and inventive ensuring that the reader remains enthralled through out.
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
The second in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. His ‘Dark Materials’, is the story of Lyra, a young girl with an exceptional destiny. Brought up in Jordan College, Oxford Lyra uncovers a secret about her mysterious guardian which leads to some dangerous questioning. It also marks the beginning of Lyra’s search for her friend Roger, a search that takes her to the ice kingdoms of the North where armoured bears rule. Lyra’s courage and stubborn determination lead her on this mission of incredible danger in this brilliant and imaginative story. It’s completely original and totally spellbinding; a true classic that will stand the test of time much in the way Tolkien’s famous work has done.
Flamingo Boy is vintage Michael Morpurgo, just the kind of story he tells so brilliantly. Eighteen-year old Vincent is ‘following the bend in the road’, letting life take him where it will, and finds himself in the wild and beautiful landscape of the Camargue. There he meets Kezia and Renzo and, as they nurse him through a fever, hears their life stories. Vincent hangs on every word and readers will too as Kezia describes the events that brought her and Renzo together, and the threats and dangers their families faced during the war. It’s a story of love, loss, renewal and reconciliation, vividly told and touching on important issues that matter to every one of us. Inspired by his own grandson, who is autistic, Renzo, the boy with a special connection to nature and animals, is one of Morpurgo’s most striking and vital characters.
Secrets and lies . . . secrets and lies . . . Fourteen-year-old twins, Kaine and Roxy, used to be close, but now they can hardly bear to be in the same room. Roxy hates the way her brother behaves - Kaine might be brilliant at football but he's always in trouble and cares nothing about his family. And Kaine despises the way his supposedly-perfect sister, dominates their parents in her ambition to reach Wimbledon. But the twins are both hiding dangerous secrets of their own, secrets that could destroy everything they are working towards - and both Roxy and Kaine's survival hangs precariously in the balance. Gripping, twisting, and real, this book is UNSTOPPABLE.
Reading Planet KS2 - Level 7: Saturn/Blue-Red band | Get ready to explore the world of William Shakespeare! Your guide is Kit, one of Shakespeare's oldest friends. He will show you around the famous Globe Theatre in London, and tell you the story of the man behind the plays, from his early childhood and his schooldays, to the incredible legacy of his writing. You'll also get to act out some scenes from his best-known plays, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth! Read on, and you'll discover why Shakespeare is considered to be one of the greatest writers ever.
The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can't wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry needs to be on his guard at all times - his worst enemy is preparing a terrible fate for him. With characteristic wit, fast-paced humour and marvellous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has proved herself yet again to be a master storyteller.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 9 | Carnegie Medal-winning author Tanya Landman returns with a brilliantly realised and truly accessible retelling of one of the greatest novels ever written, Jane Eyre. Honouring Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Tanya Landman accentuates the key themes and scenes from the original text in a more concise format, without compromising on the impact and importance of the original novel – perfect for set text study. Renowned for her precise, powerful and emotional storytelling focusing on strong female characters, Tanya is the perfect voice to bring this timeless classic to even more readers and to give Jane Eyre a new lease of life.
January 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s love, friendship and challenging prejudice aplenty in this debut novel by a LGBTQ+ parenting expert. Introverted Izzy has just started Year 8 and is wildly excited when her favourite teacher announces auditions for a Christmas production of Guys and Dolls. Though shy, she’s come to love acting because on stage she “could be whoever I wanted.” And Izzy’s not the only member of her family who wants - and needs - to be who they really are, as she discovers when her dad tells the family he’s transgender and is about to begin transitioning. Though he gently explains, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s nothing dirty, I’m not ill”, Izzy’s older sister reacts angrily, her little brother accepts it in the same way he understands Spider Man and Peter Parker’s different identities, while Izzy feels quiet worry about how their lives will change. The family’s journey is honestly and sensitively portrayed as they endure hurtful prejudice alongside many heart-melting moments, such as the gorgeous scene in which the three siblings think-up their new name for Dad. This is at once an important support tool for children in similar situations, and a barrier-breaking, empathy-inducing story for all.
Swept into the bright hustle and bustle of New York, Lily, Robert and Malkin discover shadowy secrets lie beneath its surface. For there are chilling goings-on in their hotel... A strange boy held captive, haunted by an undersea mystery; and a revengeful villain with a treacherous plan. Searching for clues, Robert and Lily are plunged into deep water... But can they reveal the deadly truth before the secrets submerge them? Join Lily, Robert and Malkin on a fantastic voyage of terror and triumph, in the fourth and final Cogheart Adventure... You can download the Shadowsea Quiz Answers here.
The twelve poems in this book, one for each month, will inspire a year of nature watching and who knows, quite likely some poetry writing too. There’s drama and excitement in the opening poem which describes a legendary fight between warring starlings – ‘the Rorschach of the winter months’ - over Cork in the 1600s; other poems are quieter and February’s gives a beautiful close up view of frog spawn, opening up memories from Coelho’s own childhood. Many of the poems in fact reflect his own personal experiences and responses to nature, April showers, trips to the beach, walks through winter leaves, giving the poems a particular intensity and emotional impact. Kelly Louise Judd’s folk-are inspired illustrations make this as beautiful to look at as it is to read aloud. A superb collection and a lovely book to give.
Fly into a fiery and fantastical future with No. 1 bestselling author David Walliams, in an epic adventure of myth and legend, good and evil, and one small boy who must save the world... Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross! is 2120 and London is in ruins. The young Prince Alfred has never known a life outside Buckingham Palace - but when strange goings-on breach its walls and stalk the corridors in the dead of night, he is thrust into a world of mystery, adventure and monsters. And when his mother, the Queen, is dragged away to the Tower of London, Alfred must screw up his courage and battle to save her, himself... and the entire city. In a future of myths and legends, join the bestselling David Walliams and venture forth into his most enthralling tale yet!
A high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This is the fourth title by the duo of past Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and writer Annemarie Young in this ground-breaking series which sets out to offer students a balanced view of the big topics and challenges the modern world faces. Having previously tackled meaty topics like Humanism, What is Right and Wrong and a similarly must-have purchase on Refugees and Migrants, this latest title could not be more perfectly timed for elucidating the forthcoming election campaign. Once again, the topic is broken down layer by layer. It looks at the whole spectrum of political views at international examples and examines what politics means in different contexts and situations, with each stage offering additional things to think about and consider and inviting the reader to reflect on their own experiences and feelings. Featuring personal statements from the authors and from four people involved in politics in different ways- Nimko Ali, Michelle Dorrell, James Graham and Sir Stephen O’Brien the overall message conveyed by the book is the very opposite of didactic. The content reflects the view that politics is about the use of power in all situations: in personal relationships, in business and the media and by the state. There is a particularly good section on how language can be used (and misused) and another on why politics causes such division and disagreement. The ground rules in the latter section should be studied by all prospective MPs! With the excellent index and glossary and further information sources this invaluable resource clearly articulates why everyone should care about politics. Highly recommended.
What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone else. The opening in which she cascades into the story world is as exhilaratingly bewildering as Alice’s entry to Wonderland: “Down she falls. Oh, how the world has tumbled.” Why does everyone think she’s a gifted dancer called Maria? Why can’t everyone see her? And so an intricate, suspenseful tale of identity plays out as Celeste struggles to untangle the truth, with dreadfully high stakes. Gardner’s cast of larger-than-life characters is vibrantly drawn, and special mention must be made of vindictive diva Madame Sabina and her awful daughter, and Celeste’s ally Viggo. But the true star of this production is - of course – Celeste, whose resolve is adeptly expressed through the thoughts of the mysterious man in the emerald suit: “Seldom has he met a child with strength enough to move on to the final part of the game.” This is a dream of a book for confident readers who relish fiction that ignites their imaginations and delight in flexing their cerebral muscles.
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.