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All the books we feature on LoveReading4Kids are selected because we think they deserve to stand out from the crowd of the many thousands of other titles published each month.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Honest, authentic and (ultimately) uplifting, Holly Bourne’s The Yearbook will strike a powerful chord with young women on the brink of leaving secondary school. Realistically raw in its portrayal of toxic relationships (from poisonous school peers to abusive partners), with an underdog protagonist readers will wholeheartedly root for, and a sweet, slow-burning romance that will melt the most cynical of hearts, this is classic contemporary YA. Budding journalist Paige lives a lonely, isolated life - “the undeniable truth was that I was invisible as well as unlovable. Nobody could see me see me at all, let alone look at me and see the potential to store their heart there. People don’t fall in love with wallpaper. Or silence.” At the same time, her parents’ marriage shows the jeopardies of falling in love with the wrong person. She and her mum walk on eggshells around her erratic, coercively controlling dad who flips from jolly joker to enraged monster over the tiniest thing. At least Paige has the school newspaper to keep her occupied - until it’s hijacked by malicious narcissists from the official Leavers’ Committee who want to create a yearbook. As Paige’s family life disintegrates, she realises that the infiltrators steering the yearbook are re-writing history. The same goes for Paige’s dad and his ilk - people who think “they’re the hero of their own story, but, actually, in the pursuit of being so important, they’re often the villain of everyone else’s”. Thankfully, though, hope comes in the form of her independent-minded aunt Polly (“she seemed to genuinely care for me”) and soul-lifting Elijah, who supports Paige’s quest to find her voice and speak the truth after they meet through a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
May 2021 Book of the Month | With 50 different activities to try out in this book, there’s really no excuse for not getting active. Its message is that wherever you are, you can get moving, and it makes it sound really tempting. After explaining why it’s important to get active, it lists things to do and how to do them, whether that’s trying the long jump to building an indoor obstacle course. The instructions are clear and fun, with charts and photos to make it even more appealing and easy to follow, and you can record your activities as you go on write-in charts. Little ‘Did you know?’ boxes pass on fascinating facts and there extra tips scattered throughout too. Bright, colourful, lots of fun, this is certain to get everyone on their feet.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | May 2021 Book of the Month | Following on from the phenomenal success of Tom’s other World War fiction, Armistice Runner and D-Day Dog, this is a powerful read that masterfully combines fiction with historical fact in a thrilling naval adventure inspired by the incredible history of the Second World War Arctic convoys.
May 2021 Books of the Month | This clever and thoroughly charming picture book is full of information about emperor penguins and human dads too. Sam is waiting for his dad to come home and for their nightly storytelling session – his dad makes up brilliant stories. But Dad is late, arriving only just in time in fact, and Sam is put out; he refuses a dinosaur superhero story, normally his favourite. So his dad tells him a very different story, the true story of Papa Penguin who waits in the freezing cold, guarding his egg, hardly moving for weeks and weeks until at last the egg hatches and he sees his chick. I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate a father’s unconditional, superhero love for his child, no wonder Sam loves it and asks for the same story the next night. Momoko Abe’s illustrations are full of warmth and family love, even in Antarctica and like Sam, children will want this story again and again. A final double page spread includes more facts about how real-life Papa Penguins behave.
May 2021 Book of the Month | With absolutely no sign of the tricky second novel syndrome following, as it swiftly does, the critically acclaimed Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, Jenny Pearson shows again her ability to make the reader laugh aloud while also tackling some really emotional ‘big’ topics . As a primary teacher she knows her audience inside out and creates very real and believable characters even if they are involved in extraordinary adventures. The capacity of children to become obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records is familiar to every librarian and so the theme of this story is spot on. Young readers will adore that every chapter is headed by ever more outlandish world records (and to read about the author’s own favourites at the end) and will relish the antics of Lucy and Sandesh in their record attempts. I love the fact that the text is peppered with Don’t Try this at Home warnings too! The lively illustrations only add to the book’s already significant shelf appeal. But it is the reason for the World Record attempt that gives the hilarity a much deeper impact. Lucy’s single parent Mum suffers from depression and is hospitalised at the beginning of the book. Lucy’s poignant quest to find her Mum’s happiness tellingly reveals the internal struggles of children faced with parental mental health issues and will provide an invaluable opportunity for other children to empathise or indeed talk about their own difficulties. The fact that Lucy realises that she does have a strong support network with her eccentric, yet wise, Aunt Sheila and with her incredibly loyal friend Sandesh, will provide these children with comfort and hope that things will get better. This novel positively sparkles with kindness, heart and humour and I predict young readers will be fighting to get hold of it!
May 2021 Book of the Month | Ten-year-old Billie Upton Green opens up her doodle diary to readers, and what a treat it proves: a fabulously lively and idiosyncratic record of an eventful couple of weeks in her life. When a new girl joins her class, Billie is determined to make her feel welcome, even though Janey seems a bit of a show-off. She’s disconcerted that Janey doesn’t know what it means to be adopted, like Billie, or that you can have two mums, also like Billie. It gets harder to like Janey though when it appears she’s stealing Billie’s best friend, Layla. This also seems, to Billie, to put Janey in the frame for a sudden spate of thefts at their school, but the culprit is someone else altogether and by the end of the book, Billie, Layla and Janey are firm friends, the three of them performing a special dance at Billie’s mums’ wedding. Readers will love Billie’s adventures, and her funny, doodle-filled way of sharing them, as much as they love the Dork Diaries or Wimpy Kid stories, and it’s great too to see such a warm celebration of diverse family life.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Multi-award-winning Brian Conaghan specialises in misfits, characters on the edge looking in, and he has a wonderful ear for authentic dialogue and for giving us male protagonists with emotional depth. He creates characters that rapidly find a place in your heart and who will make you laugh out loud and shed a few tears. This is the first time that he has written for a younger audience and does so without losing any of his trademark authenticity or sharp, wisecracking dialogue. Brian’s older teen fans will also find this an enjoyable read. Lenny blames himself and his size for everything. He believes his Mum and Dad blame him too. His beloved older brother is in a Young Offenders Institute as a result of defending Lenny against some thugs beating him up. His coping strategy is to hide and his favourite bunking off school place is a canal side bench. Tossing his IrnBru can into the canal introduces him to Bruce- another outsider- living in a cardboard home hidden away on the bank. Despite this traumatic start the pair strike up a life-changing friendship. The reader will gradually get to hear their stories as Lenny is able to talk to Bruce, unlike his parents or teachers and inveigles him into helping to avoid a school dilemma and then to accompany him on an epic journey to see his brother. But Bruce is no pushover and Lenny has to face up to some stiff challenges in return and in so doing discovers courage, resilience and talents that he would not have believed he had. We eventually learn Bruce’s heart-breaking story too, but without any saccharine ending we feel there is hope and a future for both. Warm hearted and memorable this should go to the top of your wishlist for school libraries and every child's bookshelf. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Despite being set in the 1920’s in the imaginary country of Afalia, this stunning and inventive story, from twice Carnegie medal winning author McCaughrean, has powerful messages about the current state of politics, big business and environmental exploitation in our world and most loudly of all about the need for reliable and independent news sources. The story is partly revealed by facsimile newspaper cuttings and it is fascinating to see the progression from real information to manipulation of popular opinion by ruthless and deadly corrupt officials. Gloria, a naive 15-year-old maid to the Suprema, Alfalia’s ruler, is at the heart of the story. As flooding and disaster threaten to overwhelm the country, the Suprema runs away, and Gloria is inveigled by the Suprema’s husband into temporarily impersonating her. As they discover the full extent of the corruption and misinformation, they face an uphill battle to save lives and stand up for what is right. Meanwhile a second narrative follows the fate of people in the neglected North (in another real life parallel) and a dog’s epic quest to find his boy. The canine conversations are just one of the pleasures provided in this multi-layered narrative populated by such a vivid cast of characters and with so many twists and turns keeping the reader enthralled. Ultimately the novel demonstrates the resilience of man and nature and the ability of people to do the right thing given half a chance. This really is vintage McCaughrean and highly recommended. As our Guest Editor in April 2021 Geraldine McCaughrean tells us more about The Supreme Lie and her other brilliant novels.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Framed by a lyrical, mythological story of the Great Sky Wolf and every mother-dog’s desire to protect her pups (“she cannot know what lies ahead…when they are taken from her, into the world of man”), Gill Lewis’s A Street Dog Named Pup is a poignant tale of survival, and the lifelong, life-changing bonds that can be formed between humans and dogs. Brimming with empathy and understanding, it’s a thrilling and deeply moving novel that will be adored by animal-lovers and fans of adventure fiction alike. From the off, the special human-dog bond sits centre stage when Pup, “a dog with a big heart”, lovingly refers to “his boy, who held him tight and told him that one day he would grow into his big puppy paws.” But something isn’t right. Pup’s boy isn’t there, and in his place is a big man who abandons him in Dead Dog Alley, where the Street Dogs take him under their paws. Among them Frenchi, a French bulldog, imparts the wisdom that in order to survive, you need shelter and food, but “Pup wanted his boy. He wanted him more than ever.” While this desire to be reunited grows deeper each day, and no one else will do, hope fades as time passes. What’s more, Pup and his new-found canine crew have other pressing problems to attend to. At times gritty, and always gripping, this has all the hallmarks of an animal adventure classic - a story with the power to move readers in every possible way.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2021 | Award-winning Jeanne Willis perfectly captures a little girl’s excitement and fear as she works up to taking her first solo bike ride. She knows the freedom and exhilaration it will bring but a part of her remains almost too scared to try. Her daddy is reassuring and encouraging and full of good advice about bumps in the road that goes far beyond just the difficulties of bike riding! At last, with daddy to keep her steady she is off! And she is flying! Now it is daddy who is worried…Will his little girl every come back now she’s got this taste of freedom? Tony Ross’s illustrations match the moments of exhilaration and anxiety perfectly making this a joyful celebration of the importance of letting go that will strike a chord for parents and children alike. Daddy, Don't Let Go was originally published in 2012.
Aldrin Adams discovers that he has the world's most unusual and secret SUPER-POWER: By eating very stinky cheese before bedtime, Aldrin can enter people's dreams and nightmares, and help them with their problems. The trouble is, Aldrin has problems of his own. Dad's not been himself since Mum died, their cheese shop (C'est Cheese!) is under threat of closure, and Aldrin's struggling at school. But things go from bad to worse when Aldrin realises something - or someone - is trying to steal his cheesy super power for their own evil plan for world domination! And this time, Aldrin might need more than the stinkiest of Bries to save the day!
Big Sky Mountain is a love letter to nature and the wild, inspired by Alex's own childhood with his grandma in the Malvern Hills, and the woodland and cabin he now owns in Kent. The books have a fictional, non-specified location, but draw on inspiration from the landscape of the Highlands of Scotland as well as the wilderness of North America. Part of a four book series that will span the four different natural environments of Big Sky Mountain, from river to forest to mountain to coast, with stories and adventures set in diverse natural habitats and with different animals.
May 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Andy Seed’s book puts us up close and personal with some of the amazing giants of the ocean. Using his special ‘tranimalator’ machine, which allows him to talk to animals and which works just as well underwater it seems, Andy dives into the sea and starts interviewing. Among those he questions are a bull shark, a blue whale, a giant squid and an anglerfish. He asks exactly the kind of questions kids would ask, and the answers are very revealing, full of information about where they live, what they eat, and what likes to eat them! Some of their answers are pretty funny – these creatures have a good sense of humour and like to tease Andy – but there are constant reminders too about the dangers they face from plastic pollution, fishing and global warming. With lively, appealing illustrations by Nick East, this is a quirky but really effective information book.
Think opera and young children don’t go together? Think again! This liveliest of histories introduces children to Mozart, Rossini and Beethoven and their work, in an engaging and informative tour of the Classical period. It’s all facilitated through magical time travel: best friends Megan and Jack are on a school trip in London when they suddenly find themselves whisked back in time to eighteenth century Europe. Before you can say semibreve, they are face to face with composers and some famous royals too in a hectic adventure that is packed full of musical facts and information. Illustrations by Karl Davies do even more to bring the composers vividly to life. Wunderkind Mozart is bound to emerge the favourite but expect young readers to demand more information on the featured composers and to listen to their music too. Bravo!
April 2021 Book of the Month | This exquisitely creepy YA shocker whirls with gritty horror, witty one-liners, Insta-worthy visual conjurations and the menacing mystery of three bewitching sisters who vanished in childhood. “Dark dangerous things happened around the Hollow sisters. We each had black eyes and hair as white as milk...We didn’t have friends, because we didn’t need them.” So explains the youngest sister, Iris. As children, the three sisters vanished one New Year’s Eve on the strike of midnight and reappeared with their hair and eyes a different colour, tiny baby teeth in place of their adult teeth, and no memory. “In possession of an alchemical self-confidence that belonged to much older humans,” Iris’ older sisters have “set off into the world, both bound for the glamorous, exotic futures they’d always known they were destined for”, leaving her alone in North London with her mother. Sinister bells toll when seventeen-year-old Grey, a supermodel and designer of decadent couture “who looked like sex and smelled like a field of wildflowers”, fails to turn up to middle sister Vivi’s punk gig in Camden, and then there’s the mystery of the man wearing a horned skull. There are books with unexpected twists, then there’s House of Hollow - imagine losing your way in a decaying fairy tale forest, where tangled tree roots trip you up, and you have no idea what terrors skulk within its ever-shifting mists. At times grisly and always eerie, this intoxicating cocktail of contemporary horror and mythic menace is a lushly-written feast.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Derek Landy’s riotously inventive Skulduggery Pleasant series first blasted its way onto bookshelves back in 2007, and fresh fantastical thrills keep on coming in Dead or Alive - no mean feat for book fourteen in a series. With the world teetering on the brink of irrevocable, devastating change, this penultimate novel sees Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Omen face their most trying test (yet…). As wildly witty and exhilarating as ever, this doorstopper of a page-turner sizzles with a burning sense of time slipping away, for if Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie can’t rid the world of Damocles Creed, the world’s people will be wiped out. Even Valkyrie is thrown by the imminent prospect of making the ultimate sacrifice: “Valkyrie woke, jumped out of bed and managed to get halfway to the bathroom before she threw up. They were going to kill Creed. They were going to kill Creed and nothing would be the same again.” The dialogue dances, desperation escalates, and fans will be left longing to know how Skulduggery’s awe-inspiring story will end.
April 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Designed to support the KS2 National Curriculum, this rich resource will help young writers get to grips with grammar in clear and meaningful ways that will enhance their writing. It’s also a handy time-saver for teachers, providing as it does excellent examples that demonstrate grammar in action. The book really stands out for the author’s ability to explain tricky-to-grasp points of grammar through the lens of their purpose. Let’s take fronted adverbials as an example. After explaining what they are (words “used for beginning sentences by focussing on location, time, frequency, manner or the degree in which something is happening”), he provides a handy list of examples (nearby, here, in the woods, later, eventually, sadly, full of joy, close to tears) in the context of why they’re used: “for helping the reader visualise or sequence what is occurring.” Alongside lucid explanations of key terms, this golden grammar nugget also gleams with great tips on how to make sentences more exciting, with the “Awesome alternatives” chapter serving as a succinct thesaurus. The sections covering themes in more detail are sure to enhance students’ vocabulary on specific topics, from the seasons and school, to space and suspense, while the character chapter will be especially helpful for creative writing, with vocabulary lists for the likes of hair, skin, eyes and personal quirks. The layout is top-notch too, with key information clearly boxed, and lively illustrations peppered throughout - full marks for a concise toolkit that will boost writing skills. Kids interested in exploring their creativity through writing will find inspiration in Joanne Owen's new series, Get Creative.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Bravo to Jonathan Stroud! With its cast of charismatic characters and extraordinary world-building (think broken Britain with Wild West vibes), The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne is an audacious firecracker. And, in even better news for fans of funny, inventive adventure fiction, this is but the beginning of what’s set to be an extraordinary series. “Britain was a land of ruin…the country was maimed and broken - but full of strange fecundity and strength”. It’s also brimming with the likes of bears, wolves, flesh-eating spear-birds and gruesome cannibal creatures, all of which whip-smart, cuss-uttering Scarlett takes into her swaggering stride. She makes an unforgettable impression from the off: “A slight slim figure in a battered brown coat, weighed down with…all the paraphernalia of a girl who walked the Wilds.” After killing four grown men who’d tried to rob her, Scarlett struts into a bank and proceeds to hold it up (turns out she needs money to repay a debt). On fleeing the scene, Scarlett finds a crashed bus, all its passengers dead but for a lone boy hiding in the toilet. Enter Albert Browne, “awkward, skinny and wide-mouthed, like a frightened skeleton”, and seemingly a piece of powdery chalk to Scarlett’s pungent cheese. Her scathing sarcasm (and Albert’s obliviousness to it) provides many a laugh: “You just holler if I get in your way,” she seethes as he admires a seed pod while she sets about making a fire, cooking a bird and establishing a camp for them, and all while they’re being pursued. But, for all his unworldliness, Albert turns out to have hidden talents. Sensing he might be of use to her after all, Scarlett agrees to help him accomplish his own mission. Albert wants to reach the Free Isles, remnants of London that “don’t have any restrictions on who you are or what you can do. They welcome people who are...different”, unlike the dictatorial High Council of the Faith Houses, which is “desperate to keep the old ways going”, and “on the watch for any kind of deviation.” Trouble is, as their respective pursuers close in, time and space is running out for our unforgettable outlaws. What a story, what characters, and what a wait it will be until the second instalment. I defy any reader not to fall for Scarlett and Albert, and to become gasp-out-loud, laugh-out-loud invested in their quest.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Michelle Paver has done it again in the eighth book in her epic, emotional Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Stone Age series that began with Wolf Brother. Skin Taker reels with a rollercoaster sense of adventure, shadowy atmosphere and an infectious spirit of survival as Torak, Renn and Wolf must find new ways to exist during the midwinter Dark Time, when new dangers are awoken and devastation looms. Torak remains the brave, brash protagonist readers have long known and admired, yet his character has been deftly developed too, and he’s here presented with fierce challenges - and responses - that befit his experiences. Though its setting is aeons ago, and though Torak’s world is suffused in otherworldly spirit magic, Paver has a remarkable skill for making her stories richly relatable. The emotional dilemmas and relationships have resonance; the detail and atmosphere of the natural world are truly tangible, and what an exhilarating immersion in the wild this offers adventure-seeking readers. Read a Q&A with Michelle Paver about Viper's Daughter, as she returned to the Wolf Brother series after over a decade.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Abandoned by their original owners, cats Pasha and Poop (yes, really) find forever homes with the lovely Wilde family. But the cats of their new neighbourhood are terrorised by the pawful Scaredy Cat. With flashing eyes, and an ability to walk through walls, he forces everyone to follow his cruel rules for cat behaviour, and woe betide those that try to resist. Pasha is determined to stand up to the bullying, but can he persuade Poop and the other cats that they have nothing to fear but fear itself? Typically for Patterson, the story races along, the cats taking turns to narrate, and it’s a perfect mix of excitement, adventure and comedy. It comes to a wonderful climax in a pet cemetery of all places, and amongst the fun there are important messages about finding the strength in yourself to do what’s right.
June 2021 Book of the Month | Set in an unspecified time not too dissimilar to now, and in a country that strongly resembles our own, this tense, gripping graphic novel demonstrates just how quickly civilisation can fall apart. Bea lives with her dad, big sister and little brother; her mother has already had to flee their country, which is in the midst of a civil war, the forces of the state fighting the rebel Free Kingdom movement, with civilians bearing the brunt, enduring food shortages, power cuts and bomb attacks along with casual brutality from both sides. The family know they’ll have to leave soon, and the book describes the events that trigger their decision to go and live as refugees. The story describes what it’s like to live in a society where trust has collapsed, and where everyone is scared and desperate. But it underlines too the power of family to hold together during the most difficult times and the importance of hope. Powerful and original, it makes for thought-provoking reading, text and illustrations carrying a very strong message. Brian Conaghan explores similar territory in his prize-winning dystopian novel The Bombs That Brought Us Together while the refugee experience is captured in A M Dassau’s Boy, Everywhere.
March 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | The Usborne Book of the Brain (and How it Works) by neuroscientist Betina Ip is a delightful science book aimed at children aged 5+. It takes young readers on a journey inside the human head to see how the brain works and what it does, looking at the main brain cells (neurons) and their connections. It uses simple terms to explain how we see, think, use our senses, feel emotions, form memories, sleep and make decisions. Using age-appropriate practical examples, such as ‘How do we decide which ice cream to have?’, the book gives young children plenty to talk about with their family, friends and teachers. There are also sections on how to look after your brain and how scientists learn about brains. With its colourful illustrations and packed full of fascinating facts, this book is perfect – and great fun – for inquisitive children (and their parents).
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All the books we feature on LoveReading4Kids are selected because we think they deserve to stand out from the crowd of the many thousands of other titles published each month. However, sometimes in a month, we wish to give that little bit more emphasis to a title or titles and to make it a 'Book of the Month' within its age range.
You’ll find those titles here in our Books of the Month page.
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