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The books in this section have been given a primary age range of 11+. 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. The books in this section are suitable for 11-12+ readers. The books in this section might also be given a secondary age range. Some are suitable for 9+ year olds reading above their age. Please note, content & subject matter will be suitable for a 9 year old. Where indicated, less confident teen readers will enjoy the stories. Non-Fiction in this section is often fascinating and educational to a wider age range.
July 2021 Book of the Month | Having demonstrated in The Gifted, the Talented and Me a real comic gift for creating believably awkward adolescent males, William Sutcliffe does it again with 13-year-old Luke. His family life has been turned upside down as first his stroppy elder sister and then his father join the climate rebellion activists ‘across the road,’ squatting in a house scheduled for demolition in a controversial airport extension plan. While poking gentle fun at Nimby’s and career protestors alike, there is an underlying core of real science and justified outrage about the environmental crisis for the planet in this hugely enjoyable story. Other serious themes are touched upon in this subtle and deceptively light-hearted narrative. The role of protest, politics and the media, the need for tolerance and understanding of different lifestyles, responsible parenting and the need for us all to stand up for what really matters. Luke learns a lot about himself and his own prejudices when he comes up against Sky – a child born into alternative lifestyles and protest, who yearns for stability and the privilege of attending school. These are both great characters, frequently displaying wisdom and courage that their elders lack. Making serious points while provoking laughter takes real skill and this excellent novel undoubtedly demonstrates that. Highly recommended.
July 2021 Book of the Month | Written by an expert in dog training – Steve Mann is recognised all over the world for his expertise, he is also the author of the UKs leading dog training manual for adults. As you would expect from an author with such a pedigree this book is filled with useful information. Presented in short clear sections, with lots of cartoonlike illustrations, the book will not overpower any young dog owner, but sets out in a logical manner the how and why of dog (and human) behaviour – so that dog and handler are both comfortable, relaxed and learning. The book covers all the essential exercises for good dog ownership, how to read the dog’s body language (and how dogs read ours), clear instructions, as well as lots of fun activities and even some quizzes. An excellent choice for any young dog owner (and even some not so young ones!).
July 2021 Book of the Month | The Ordnance Survey Kids’ Adventure Book is an inspiration, guide and introduction to map-reading and navigation that will give both competence and confidence to young explorers. Ever since I was a kid, looking at a map has been imagining an adventure. Learning the symbols, colours, abbreviations, lines, dashes and fonts that illustrate an Ordnance Survey map is like cracking a secret code that makes it possible to visualise what is around and beyond. In this new Kids’ Adventure Book, OS has made the learning even more fun - packed cover to cover with puzzles, quizzes and tips that will keep the young adventurer in your family (and you!) entertained for days. Then, once they are ready to step out on their first expedition, the book also provides everything they need to know about how best to prepare, deal with difficult weather, injuries - and even where they might go in Britain and what to do if they get lost! Perfect to equip curious kids aged 8+ with the confidence and skills to explore the outdoors and get adventurous. Kids who love the outdoors will find more inspiration in our collection, A World of Adventure.
Two children, separated from their families and facing real dangers, connect and against all the odds become close friends in Sophie Kirtley’s new adventure story. They should never have met at all – Dara the 21st-century boy and 12-year-old Mothgirl, all the way from the Stone Age. Somehow though they do, and it’s testament to the power of Kirtley’s storytelling skills that we accept this completely, and feel the truth of their growing friendship too. Mothgirl is fleeing the bullying leader of a neighbouring tribe who has picked her out as future wife for his son, once he’s forced her to give up her independence that is, and fit into the role picked out as proper for girls. Dara meanwhile is determined to prove himself and experience the sort of bold adventures that his chronic illness has always prevented. Together they help each other find the strength they need to achieve their dreams, and the courage to make others accept them for who they truly are. Set mostly on a wild, uninhabited island this is rich with a sense of the natural world as well as being an exciting, positive, kids-on-their-own story, and highly recommended. It is a sequel to Kirtley’s equally good debut The Wild Way Home, but can be read as a stand alone.
Once again Polly Ho-Yen shows her facility at injecting a thrilling element of sci-fi and mild horror into her stories of very real children and authentic depictions of relationships with family and friends. What could be a familiar tale of a young boy dealing with family break up and a parent with what we can see are mental health issues, becomes a nightmare battle for survival. Billy’s mum, Sylvia, is constantly teaching him the rules for how to survive alone, often taking him out of school for practical lessons. But one lesson gets life-threateningly out of hand and Billy is sent to live with his father while she is hospitalized. Billy has to learn to trust his father and his potential new family and also accept the true friendship offered by Anwar. They will all need each other when the doom that Sylvia seemed to be expecting arrives in the shape of a terrifying virus. Billy is a character that readers will really care about and admire his courage and resilience. He learns some valuable lessons about people being stronger together and finally understands what happened to his mother. While the resolution of the crisis might stretch credibility for adult readers, younger readers will gallop through to the nail-biting climax in this exciting adventure.
A proper, old-fashioned (in the best sense) mystery story, A M Howell’s book poses a series of puzzles for its young protagonist Nancy to solve. It’s 1910 and Halley’s Comet is blazing closer to earth, provoking hysteria amongst some members of the public. It certainly seems to be having a strange effect on Nancy’s mother who suddenly takes her two daughters on a secret visit to their grandfather – the grandfather she’d told them was dead. His Sussex village seems normal but below the surface things are far from happy. As she finds out more, Nancy realises it’s in her hands to heal the village and the family she never knew she had. The story is clever, involving and delightfully atmospheric with the village providing some excellent settings – eerie old houses, gorgeous ballrooms, a dismal prison. With her new friend and associate grocer’s boy Burch, Nancy uncovers lies, deceit and corruption, and learns the power of speaking up.
Adapted for a younger readership from the author’s celebrated adult book of the same name, this illustrated history of the Silk Roads, bound in a majestic gold and blue package, is the perfect present for fledging historians. The book’s journey leads armchair adventurers along thrilling, far-reaching roads, taking in the history of ancient Persia, Constantinople, Rome, Attila the Hun, the emergence of Islam, Viking slavery, Genghis Khan, Columbus - and more - from a holistic perspective. “You might even think of the Silk Roads as the world’s central nervous system, linking all the organs of the body together”, the author suggests in the introduction, and his engaging exploration of the interplay between politics, science, religion and trade certainly gives this book far greater tang than your standard textbook. Indeed, generously spiced with exquisite illustrations and maps that inform as they enthrall, young history buffs will undoubtedly devour this pitch-perfect treasure, and grown-ups will get much from it too.
Striking a brilliant balance between providing excellent entertainment and exploring topical issues, Tamsin Winter’s Girl (in real life) tells a lively, LOL-some, life-affirming tale. At its heart is Eva, who’s lived in the public eye since birth. Actually, since before birth - her parents have been vlogging about her on their All About Eva YouTube channel since she was in the womb. While getting free stuff from sponsors might be pretty cool (at first), the idea of living an unfiltered life, free from the shackles of endless product-promotion, has escalating appeal, especially when Eva’s parents go against her wishes and broadcast news of her first period to their gazillion subscribers. While feeling embarrassed and betrayed, Eva quickly bonds with new girl Carys, who “just seemed to get it. She was the first person in forever to ask me if I minded this stuff.” And, as it happens, Carys also has the skills to help Eva make serious changes. When her plan is set in motion, the fall-out builds to an epic storm that will have readers reeling, gasping and cringing (and, in all probability, shedding tears). Countering this storm, the pertinent wisdom of Eva’s glorious Danish granny is a pacifying presence, and her friends Hallie and Spud are adorable, authentic delights. Above all, and through everything, Eva’s voice is utterly engaging.
The thrilling third book in Robert Muchamore’s Robin Hood series, Robin Hood Jet Skis, Swamps and Smugglers is shot-through with a strong sense of taking down the bad guys, and reels with rip-roaring adventure and perils aplenty. This is Robin Hood reimagined for our times, replete with a people-smuggling plot that takes in the plight of refugees and issues around modern-day slavery as Robin and Marion pursue their quest to quash corruption. With a squad of former special forces soldiers set on handing him over to gangster Guy Gisborne, thirteen-year-old Robin is hiding out (and working out to grime music) in the swampy Eastern Delta with Marion (whatever you do, don’t say they’re in love - don’t even joke about it). But hiding out doesn’t mean hiding away from helping people in need, and soon Marion and Robin are in the thick of finding out who’s behind an abusive people-smuggling operation. With whip-smart one-liners, short sparky chapters and razor-sharp plotting, this comes especially recommended for reluctant readers.
50 True Stories of Football's Greatest Sides | If you like football, you’ll love the Football School series of books by Alex Bellos and Ben Lytttleton and this latest, Terrific Teams is another winner! As England falls deeper in love with the national team, Terrific Teams introduces 50 other great sides, from across the world and different eras, and explains just what made them so good. As a Red, I turned immediately to page 112, to read about the rebirth of Liverpool under the great Bill Shankley and how he developed their winning strategy not in the office, but in the tiny boot room under the main stand. It’s a fun fact, but it tells you a lot. The previous entry is tiny Lewes, saved from bankruptcy in 2010 with the introduction of an inspired share ownership scheme which means there are 1,500 owners; while the entry after Liverpool, is Lyon Women, a trophy-winning machine whose former players include Megan Rapinoe, Lucy Bronze and Dzsenifer Marozsán. This is a fantastic way of examining the variety of the beautiful game, its appeal and the players and fans who make it so special. Unbeatable!
Published in partnership with Barrington Stoke, which makes it ideal for less-confident readers, Marcus Sedgwick’s Dark Peak tells a gripping, mysterious tale of two children who go missing during a school trip to a church in the heart of the Peak District. With a remarkable diversity of novels to his name - from gleefully gothic series for younger readers, to legend-driven Middle Grade fiction, to hugely-acclaimed, richly-layered YA novels - Marcus Sedgwick is an unswervingly elegant storyteller, and that’s certainly true of this highly-readable short novel - it chimes with bell-clear lucidity as it teems with tension. Set during the scorching summer of 1976, our compelling narrator, Porter Fox, becomes embroiled in a creepy mystery when two children go missing during his school trip to Lud's Church. The question is, “how do thirty-four people walk into one end of a tunnel but only thirty-two walk out of the other end? Because that is what happened”. Stranger still, when one of the vanished is found, the search for still-missing Stephen is called off, and no one speaks of the event: “it was as if a spell had been cast over the whole school, like in a fairy tale.” When Porter and his friend Sam take it upon themselves to dig deeper, they discover the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other reports that seem to show how “Lud’s Church was a magnet for weirdness”. In addition to presenting a thoroughly enthralling, edge-on-your-seat thriller, the book includes fascinating background information, suggestions for further reading, topics for discussion, and a quiz.
July 2021 Debut of the Month | Set in the world of gaming, Jamie Russell’s SkyWake Invasion is packed with peril, quips and gaming blips that turn out to have real-life repercussions. Fifteen-year-old gamer Casey is a whizz at the SkyWake computer game and leads an online team. When invited to play at a live tournament in London she’s forced to come clean being a girl. With her adorable younger brother Pete in tow (he’s also a keen gamer), she disproves prejudice against girl gamers in the most unlikely and terrifying of circumstances when it turns out that SkyWake is far more than a game. It is, in fact, a training scheme for evil aliens looking to recruit top gamers to fight in a war. Worse still, they’ve captured Pete, and Casey must muster all her leadership and gaming skills to save him. Interwoven to the action-packed alien adventure are themes of friendship, teamwork and proving prejudice wrong, and a narrative that skips back to scenes of Casey with her deceased dad, a bomb disposal expert who had a passion for arcade games. All of which means the funny, fast-paced tale has emotional resonance. Ending on a heart-pounding cliff-hanger, the stage is set for what promises to be an epic second instalment of the SkyWake trilogy.
Ahoy there! The Nine Sails is casting off for Madagascar so all aboard for a treasure hunt you'll never forget! Kintana has grown up listening to stories of life at sea from her pa, an ex-pirate turned pet shop owner. So when a tall ship - The Nine Sails - berths at Pirate Island she eagerly joins the motley crew as a cabin boy - even though her main duty will be to look after the pirate's pets. But someone on board is determined to disrupt the voyage, could the dreaded captain's curse be to blame? Or is it the lure of buried treasure that will draw the ship back? One thing is for sure, Kintana is about to discover that sometimes adventure is found closer to home.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | Thoughtful and inspiring, Protest! covers the theory of protest – how it works, why people take part, why it is so important in bringing about change – and, above all, the tactics to bring about change that were used in any particular protest. The individual protests are grouped together under headings including: Independence and Resistance which contains ‘Resisting the Nazis’; Rights for Women from ‘Suffragettes’ to ‘Women’s Lib’ and, bringing the subject up to date, Global Uprising including ‘Arab Spring’, ‘Hong Kong’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ and New Grassroots including ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and ‘School Strikes’. In the text and illustrations, Alice and Emily Haworth-Booth make these campaigns from the past vivid. Through their telling of these stories – which they acknowledge are the campaigns that they themselves are committed to -they inspire all those with a cause to support to get involved.
Shortlisted for the Excelsior Award White 9+ KS2 | Created by artist duo Metaphrog, this version of the chilling story of Bluebeard plunges readers into a vivid fairytale world that swaps idyll for nightmare with the turn of a page. Eve’s dreams of a future with her childhood sweetheart Tom end when she is chosen by Bluebeard to be his wife. Her neighbours in the village are suspicious of him and believe the forest around his castle is enchanted but his wealth and apparent generosity win them and Eve’s family over. Trapped in his castle with its labyrinth of corridors and locked doors, Eve eventually finds herself at the room she’s been told never to enter and discovers her husband’s terrible secret. In this version, Metaphrog allow her a sister to help in her trial and the chance to win her happy ending. With a palette of brooding purples and blues and luminous reds, orange and pink - sunsets and sunrises - the book perfectly balanced menace and beauty in a story that will entrance readers of all ages.
Generously illustrated by Timothy with greyscale images this book is the first novel from poet Camden – a performance poet known as Polar Bear, and prize winner of the CLiPPA poetry award. Beautifully written we are taken into Jay’s world – a ten-year-old who is uncool and mostly ignored. But when his dad just ups and leaves no-one will answer Jay’s questions. So, he makes up his own answers – and shares them with his classmates! This suddenly makes him one of the coolest kids in class! But little does he realise just how complicated it is to keep track of his stories, and who he might hurt, badly, along the way. For a book about the dangers of lying – with a moral heart at its centre – it is a very amusing, funny book which will keep readers enthralled to see if Jay and his friendships survive – or what he can do to save the day? A powerful look at the dangers of untruths – and no matter what, the reader roots for Jay as he is such a lovely character, well drawn and full of the chaotic emotions of pre-teens thrown into their often complex school relationships.
The final book in the epic and bestselling children's fantasy series that will make you believe in magic ... Perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon, Michelle Harrison's A Pinch of Magic, as well as classic children's fantasy adventures, Narnia and Jumanji. Rose and Arthur are back in Roar, on a voyage that takes them further than they've ever been before: beyond The End. It's an amazing adventure - full of secrets, surprises and fairies with fangs - but then a mysterious storm changes everything. Shipwrecked on a strange island, they make a shocking discovery ... Could this be the end of Roar? Jenny McLachlan is the author of several acclaimed teen novels including Flirty Dancing, Stargazing for Beginners and Truly, Wildly, Deeply. Before Jenny became a writer, she was Head of English in a secondary school; she now loves visiting schools as an author and delivering funny and inspiring talks and workshops. The Land of Roar series is Jenny's debut for readers of 8-12. Ben Mantle began his illustration career early, picking up his first award in a local library colouring-in competition aged seven. Ben has illustrated a number of children's books and is the creator of the award-winning The Best Birthday Present Ever! . Ben lives and works in Brighton.
You've never seen the Wimpy Kid World like this before - an entirely new, awesome, friendly, truly fantastic fantasy quest from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney! From the imagination of Wimpy Kid's Rowley Jefferson comes an adventure of epic proportions! Join Roland and his best friend, Garg the Barbarian, as they leave the safety of their village and embark on a quest to save Roland's mum from the White Warlock. Will our heroes survive? Find out in Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure! And don't miss Rowley Jefferson's first book, the instant #1 bestseller, Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal.
In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong. In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward. For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages - and if he doesn't, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she's smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn't sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough. Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet. This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest. Carry On was conceived as a book about Chosen One stories; Any Way the Wind Blows is an ending about endings. About catharsis and closure, and how we choose to move on from the traumas and triumphs that try to define us.
Where has Faith's dad gone? Why has he left his family living in an old house perched on a crumbling cliff top? A crack has appeared in the cliff and Faith watches anxiously as it gets bigger and bigger each day... Her brother is obsessed with the sea ghosts he claims live in the basement, and when he disappears as well, Faith starts to believe in the ghosts too. Can she find her brother and bring her father back before everything she cares about falls into the pitiless sea below?
The eye opening and fascinating true story of Lily Parr, Alice Woods and their teammates in the Dick Kerr Ladies Football team are the inspiration behind this engrossing story of football obsessed Polly Nabb, who would much rather kick a ball than stay at home and help her mother, which is the role society expects her to fulfil. As men, including her beloved brother, were sent to fight in the war, women and girls took their place in munitions factories. When Polly sees these women playing football in their breaks, she lies about her age to get a job there too and eventually she is recruited to the famous Sparks team, who were playing public matches to sell-out crowds, but also on the receiving end of public vilification and scorn. Indeed, despite drawing crowds of 50,000, women's football was to be outlawed by the Football Association in 1921, who deemed it 'unsuitable for females'. This little-known fact will astonish modern fans of the Lionesses England team, as will the authentic detail of the dangers of the munition factories and the wider struggle for female independence and respect. This is a very well-rounded picture of life on the Home Front during the First World War, full of fascinating detail and incident, populated by vivid and memorable characters and infused with a real passion for the game of football. A very entertaining and enjoyable read that adds useful depth to any historical study of the period and a salutary lesson for any sexist sports fans!
Discover the history and meaning of the feminist movement through 15 reasons why feminism improves life for everyone. By exploring who has been left out of the movement historically, author Jamia Wilson makes sure everybody is included. “I am a feminist. I’ve been female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.” —Maya Angelou What have you been taught about who has power and who makes the rules? Have you ever been lost for words at an old-school family friend’s “kind” but sexist comments? Do you agree with equality and strive for justice, but struggle to take on the name “Feminist”? Then read on. In this new feminist classic, explore the points where sexism, ableism, racism, transphobia, and sizeism meet. This book's focus is intersectional from the beginning, not just as an add-on. Using the framework of “personal is political,” Jamia Wilson—director of the Feminist Press—analyses her own experiences, before expanding outwards and drawing on stats, quotes, and feminist firebrands to gain strength from. ? Expand what feminism means to you, your community and society by examining these 15 themes: feminism, identity, justice, education, money, power, health, wellness, freedom, relationships, media, safety, activism and movements, innovation, and an interactive exploration of what feminism means to you. You will close the book with an understanding that history and culture play a role in shaping systems of power and of what we can do with our strengths, community, and values to help change course when needed. You won't have read a feminist tome like this before.
Why the World is Not as Bad as You Think | From the same stable as the very excellent Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It we have a clear, accessible, fact packed analysis of the crises facing the world, charting the progress that has been made and the grounds for hope. I think everyone has recognised that this generation of young people may feel completely overwhelmed by what they have experienced and be suffering serious mental health issues as a result. This book aims to help re-set their view of the world. The fascinating introduction explains psychologically the human fascination for bad news and how media focuses on the memorable story, which is inevitably horrific. There is an excellent summation of what fake news is and the difference between disinformation and misinformation and then some brilliant tips on how to fact check and spot fake news. But this is by no means a recipe for complacency since every section: Humans, Politics, Planet, Health, Society and Arts, begins by outlining the problems, before the mix of quotes, anecdotes and fact boxes and case studies shows exactly what has been achieved already and what is in progress. This includes many projects that I certainly had never heard of, such as the Great Green Wall of Trees being built across the whole of Africa. Every section also includes Challenges – empowering ways in which an individual can contribute to solving and not being the problem. It is highly admirable that this book goes beyond the obvious environmental issues to include politics and society and it is salutary to remind ourselves of the progress made on human rights, education and equality. Also admirable and entirely fitting with the concept is a list of information sources and the origins of all the quotes used. An invaluable and much needed resource from an author with a real facility for straight talking and not talking down to young people.
How to Be the Best You Can Be | Dedicated to every young person who is trying to find their way and his mum for helping him to believe that dreams can come true, this is a motivational book by the man of the moment, the inspirational Marcus Rashford, and co-writer Carl Anka. It’s a positive and inspiring guide for life, packed full of stories from Marcus’s own life and calling for the readers to be their OWN champion, and that if they believe in themselves, incredible things can happen. With engaging black and white illustrations and infographics, it’s a great book to inspire any child to be the best they can be. Marcus Rashford MBE is Manchester United’s iconic number 10 and an England international footballer. His lobbying of the UK government during the pandemic made Marcus a household name, outside of sports fans, as he successfully lobbied a u-turn of their policy around free school meals. Before he became a global star, Marcus was just a young boy, an average kid from Wythenshawe in South Manchester – with a dream. This book gives every child the tools they need to reach their full potential. With chapters covering everything from building your confidence to navigating adversity, finding your team, using your voice and stand up for other. And never stopping learning. With action points at the end of each chapter featuring brilliant advice and top tips from performance psychologist Katie Warriner, this is a practical guide for every child to believe that their dreams can come true.
'I'm Proud of Who I Am: I Hope You Are Too' is a series of 15 books by Barbara Woster, for young readers of eight to 12 years. They take the format of a one page 'letter' from a young inhabitant of a country, region or state somewhere in the world, in which they describe unique facts about where they live and share their hopes and aspirations for the future. In Book 5, for example, the areas covered range from Aruba to Wyoming, Japan to Venezuela and each 'letter' is accompanied by an artistic impression of the contributor superimposed on an actual image or images of things that have been described. I particularly liked and related to the page from Izan, a Spanish teenager, who describes the tradition of eating one grape on each of the 12 strokes of midnight on New Year's Eve (which I've tried and failed to do myself!) and La Tomatina, the late August festival of throwing tomatoes at other people, which has always fascinated me. I was very surprised to learn that it only began in 1945. The accompanying picture of the festival and Izan's image also contains a photo of a vet treating a dog, which is his ambition. This book is very interesting and informative but not one to read cover to cover, rather it is insightful, sympathetic and well researched and ideal for reference. It succeeds in it's aim to illustrate that all the differences in the world cannot outweigh our common humanity. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Beyond the Forest Floor: Forest Tales' by Joanne McFall is a collection of 13 short stories inspired by nature, folklore and Celtic mythology. The dark and troubling tales are illustrated by Ruth O'Kelly with monochrome line drawings, which add to the brooding atmosphere, so reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. Like all fairy stories, they are timeless and designed to appeal to all ages. Also true to tradition, the characters, both human and animal, embark on journeys which transform them, as they discover they possess qualities, strengths and powers to carry out whatever is required of them whilst the forest remains the same and eternal. This is a very evocative and immersive set of stories, slightly disturbing but rewarding. I particularly liked 'Other Moon', which has all the elements of a good fairy tale...a prince, a castle, a wolf, a woodcutter, a magic seed, a wish granted but also the unexpected appearance of an angel, who shows the prince how to prove himself by helping the poor. A very interesting read.
Like its perfectly-voiced predecessor, Front Desk, I couldn’t love Three Keys any more. From its cast of adorable, authentic characters, to the gripping story of underdogs battling bad big guys, this is a sublime masterclass in Middle Grade fiction that pretty much all 8+ year-olds will adore regardless of their usual reading preferences - it’s a story that transcends literary boundaries as it explores divisive real-life boundaries in brilliant age-appropriate style. Kelly Yang is an extraordinary writer. Life is looking sunshine-bright for Mia. Her family and friends now collectively own California’s Calivista Motel and she can’t wait to hone her writing skills while taking charge of the front desk and having fun with her best friend Lupe. But clouds loom in the form of a local Governor’s anti-immigration campaign and the upcoming vote on Proposition 187. Passing this law would mean undocumented children can’t attend school, as the author witnessed first-hand as a ten-year-old Chinese immigrant in 1994. When the motel appears in the background of a TV broadcast, adorable long-time guest Hank (soon to be appointed Marketing Director) adds an “as seen on TV” line to the hotel sign that sees their bookings soar. As Mia tells a journalist she’s caught the attention of, “Here we treat everyone like family…No matter who you are and where you come from”, but not everyone agrees with the Calivista’s welcoming inclusive policy. In fact, when they add “Immigrants welcome” to the sign, their bookings take a downturn - and worse, for the property is defaced with “Go back to your country” and “Whites only” abuse. As the situation escalates, Mia does what she does best - she steps up and finds hope and strength through reaching out, in this instance through forming the Kids for Kids secret club with like-minded kids at school. But reality hits home harder still when the escalating hostile environment has devastating impact on Lupe, to which Mia and co respond by standing up for what’s right in an infectious spirit of humanity.
Jonathan King’s glorious graphic novel tingles with tension, intrigue and contemporary cool. Set in a (usually) sleepy fishing community, bookish Miro inadvertently finds himself drawn into an unsettling mystery to rival the adventures he reads about - a mystery involving an ancient cult, a creepy old castle, Antarctic exploration, and mega-marine monsters. One thing’s for sure, something fishy is definitely afoot (or should that be a-tentacle?), and this totally rocks. The classic colour palette has awesome enduring appeal, and mention must be made of the outstanding visual and textual characterisation - there’s so much expressive detail, however incidental or key the character might be.
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | 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.
Extinct is the spectacular full colour book series from leading evolutionary biologist and broadcaster Professor Ben Garrod. In his trademark lively and accessible style, Garrod makes top level science accessible to everyone as he explores the story of life on earth and the forces that have brought about the extinction and near-extinction of eight iconic species. The protégé of Dr Jane Goodall and David Attenborough’s co-presenter on Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur, Garrod kicks off the series with three books focusing on the landscape of a mass extinction and an animal that we have lost in each. Meticulously researched full colour illustrations by top palaeoartist Gabriel Ugueto further reveal everything we never knew about extinction.
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet.
Set in ancient Rome, during the terrifying rule of Caligula in fact, Annelise Gray’s book is a mix of history, adventure and horses – a winning combination! Dido’s father trains riders and horses for the famous, and frequently deadly Circus Maximus chariot races. She dreams of being a charioteer too but that’s not allowed, and she’s stuck watching the boys compete. When her father is murdered, Dido has to flee Rome, leaving behind her beautiful horse Porcellus. But Fate will bring the two of them together again, and sees Dido compete in the Circus after all. The story of Dido, Porcellus and their fellow riders and horses makes for thrilling reading. Gray transports the reader to Rome in a hoofbeat, places, people and the dangerous times vividly brought to life. Caligula plays a part in the book, and he’s not the only real person to do so – watch out for Cassius Chaerea too – but Dido is the star, as she makes her way in Rome’s macho world, determined to set her own path and avenge her father. A superb historical adventure story. If Dido’s story sets readers looking for more classical adventures, as it undoubtedly will, point them to Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries, Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles and Philip Womack’s The Arrow of Apollo.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
Ever since her mother left a few years ago, Annie has felt like the odd one out in her family. Her dad and brother are practical and organised - they just don't understand the way she thinks, in lines and colour. Everywhere she turns, she feels like an outsider, even at school, so she's been reluctant to get close to anyone. When a Ding-Dong-Ditch attempt goes wrong, Annie finds herself stuck making amends with Gloria, the eccentric elderly lady she disturbed. As she begins to connect with Gloria and her weird little dog, it becomes clear that Gloria won't be able to live on her own for much longer. But it's this brief and important friendship that gives Annie the confidence to let people in, and see how rich life can be when you decide to make your own luck and chart your own path to happiness.
When eleven-year-old Edie Winter finds a mysterious box on the London Underground she's amazed to discover that it's home to a family of Flits - tiny winged people. But Impy, Speckle and Nid need Edie's help. Not only do they need supplies (rice crispies, sugar sprinkles, digestive biscuits and raisins) and someone to look after them, but their brother Jot has run away and they need Edie's help to find him.
Told through the author's remarkable words, and just as remarkable illustrations, this is the book for those who've never felt quite right in the 'normal' world. Very important, very funny and very informative. This is the book the world needs right now.
What a diamond of a thriller this is - a genuine page-turner that snakes with twists readers genuinely won’t see coming. Who to trust? Who to believe? Sophie McKenzie has struck gold with her latest page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Cat is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. She’s lost her father, her little sister doesn’t speak, and her mum, a former TV astrology celebrity, is more interested in her work than anything Cat says or does. But after receiving a bolt-from-the-blue text alleging that her dad is alive, Cat throws herself into trying to tracking him down, with the help of a newfound friend, handsome Tyler, the first person she’s been able to open up to for an absolute age. A search for a dad becomes a search for a priceless diamond, which in turn becomes a search for the truth - and then a struggle to understand that truth. Driven by Cat’s endearingly determined, courageous personality, this read-in-one-sitting thriller has family and friendship bonds at its fast-beating heart.
A set of 6 vocabulary workbooks to support home learning. This is quite a challenging task, but a much needed resource in the current times. Each book is geared to an age range from years 1 to 6 covering all classes in KS1&2 age range. The books cover the vocabulary expected within the National Curriculum, including words used in history, science and geography topics. The books are colourful and beautifully put together with imaginative and detailed graphics, making them appealing to children. There are some super creative ideas within the worksheets, with many fun exercises and act as a good first step to build literacy skills. All the pages are based on extending vocabulary, so anything new learned is a positive thing. Within a year of education, there is an enormous differentiation in ability which is a hard thing to tackle in a workbook with no teacher input, though the instructions are clear and helpful. Looking at the instructions, the children should be encouraged to attempt the first two levels, (grasshopper and Shinobi,) themselves without support, though this will obviously depend on the child’s ability. I think that children will enjoy the opportunity to discuss the pages with an adult, and the books provide lots of new ideas for the supporting adult which could be extended and developed. The idea of downloading a certificate of achievement is always a bonus and provides added incentive and motivation. In conclusion, they are a fun and engaging resource, providing much needed support for home learning.
From Matt and Rebecca Zamolo, creators of the mega-popular YouTube series Game Master Network, comes a new thrilling novel about everyone's favorite mystery-solving team as they go toe-to-toe with the mysterious and menacing Game Master. Rebecca Zamolo is on a mission to save her summer. Instead of going to camp like she'd planned, she's been stuck in summer school. But today is the day! She's going to present her final science assignment-using her Nana's borrowed vintage zoetrope-and then she'll be free to have fun. But as Becca and her classmates wait for her teacher to arrive, a menacing voice comes over the intercom claiming to be the Game Master! The kids quickly discover that the Game Master has locked the doors, scared off the teachers, and made it clear that if Becca and her friends don't solve the clues that have been left behind, they'll never get back Becca's irreplaceable zoetrope, never finish summer school, and never get to enjoy what's left of their summer vacations. Becca doesn't know who is behind this, but she won't let the Game Master win. But will she and her classmates be able to work together to solve the puzzles and escape their school before time runs out? Join YouTube's favorite mystery solving team as they go toe-to-toe with the Game Master in the first book of this action-packed series from beloved YouTube creators Rebecca Zamolo and Matt Yoakum aka MattySlays, stars of the hugely popular Game Master Network. Fans of StacyPlays's Wild Rescuers series and Pat & Jen's PopularMMOs Presents graphic novels will love this thrilling and engaging YouTube-inspired adventure.