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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.
January 2020 Book of the Month | This is everything you could ask of a sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and then some. Readers are returned to the well-formed world of Emberfall and its neighbouring territory of Syhl Shallow, where political ambition and newly revealed secrets threaten Rhen’s crown, and where intriguing new characters take centre stage. Among these is Lia Mara, eldest daughter of Syhl Shallow’s Queen. Lia Mara has been overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of her beautiful younger sister and, in many ways, the driving message of this tale belongs to Lia, a wise, compassionate young woman who’s “used to being underestimated”, but stands her ground in the name of doing the right thing. While Prince Rhen has been freed from the curse of the malevolent enchantress Lilith, his kingdom is now subject to new threats. Rhen’s loyal right hand man, Commander Grey, has gone, assumed dead, and there are rumours that Rhen’s secret half-brother is about to lay claim to the Emberfall throne. In hiding rather than dead, Grey encounters Lia and accompanies her to Syhl Shallow. Handsome and powerful, he would make a fine husband for Lia’s younger sister, but his heart is elsewhere. The enthralling story of political struggle is thrillingly laced with conflicts of the heart - both romantic and familial - to create a satisfying feast of YA fantasy fiction, with a cliff-hanger climax that suggests a yet more explosive third installment is on its way.
December 2019 Book of the Month | ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas …’ but we’re on a snowy hillside where a lonely tree shivers in the cold. As it longs to be in the brightly lit little town below, suddenly footsteps suddenly approach. Somebody very important collects the tree and puts it at the centre of some special celebrations, before leaving with the familiar words: ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Taking inspiration from Clement C Moore’s classic poem, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ new book is filled with the joy of Christmas, and captures all its sense of magical anticipation. In a handsome small format, there’s a full page illustration on each right hand page and they tell the story with as much vivacity as the lines of verse opposite. It all concludes with a sparkling double page spread, the tree glowing in the foreground as St Nick flies off into the Christmas night silhouetted against the moon. If this doesn’t set you up for Christmas and its jollities, nothing will!
December 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2019 | Winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal | A stunning near wordless picture book which will inspire the story teller in all of its readers. While Matthew Cordell draws on some themes familiar from the traditional Red Riding Hood story he has created a quite different and hugely heart-warming drama about trust and friendship. Dressed in a bright red coat a little girl sets off to walk home from school. Snow is beginning to fall. At the same time, a pack of wolfs, including a young wolf cub, set out into the same falling snow. The snow turns into a blizzard and soon both the little girl and the wolf cub are lost. How can either of them survive? Luckily, they come together so that bth can get home safely.
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.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Reading a new Frances Hardinge novel is always an adventure into a new, carefully constructed world - where things are never quite as one might imagine as you begin. Here two friends, raised together in poverty and scavenging are leader and led, counterpoint to each other, one believing in friendship above all, the other of a very much darker outlook. They live on one of a series of islands that form the Myriad, each island with its own long dead gods, each with its own strange traditions and stories. The sea surrounding the islands hides many things within it, wrecks, bones as one may expect, but also the undersea where danger lurks ready to take any who venture too far and spit them out utterly changed. In this world Hardinge has created a masterpiece of tension, fear and friendship. A slow coming to the realisation of the world that they inhabit, and a look at power and how it can be manipulated for politicians, gods and evildoers own nefarious ends. It makes your mind race with the adventure but pulls you up to consider the philosophy behind the characters motivations. A truly great read – I think I may have to read it again now!
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Amy Wilson’s new novel is just the thing to curl up with as the nights draw in. Stella Brigg lives with her nan and friend Peg in a little house on the edge of the forest and if that sounds normal enough, Nan is actually a ghost, and Peg is an imp. All three are in hiding from the Shadow King whose creeping magic is slowly destroying the forest and the creatures, magical ones included, who live within it. Lonely and isolated, there’s one thing Stella wants more than anything, and that is to go to school. She finally does, only to discover that there’s almost as much magic in the corridors of Broadmere Academy as there is at home. With new-found friends, and a new determination and confidence, she’s finally ready to take on the Shadow King. Friendship and fun are as important to the story as magic and spell-making, and it’s a cleverly crafted and thoroughly entertaining adventure. A story to recommend to fans of Sophie Anderson’s fantasy adventures.
December 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2019 | The delightful Meerkats are back for a new and special Christmas adventure. Everyone in the Meerkat family is excitedly getting ready for the perfect Christmas in their home in the Kalahari Desert. But Sunny is sure that something is missing. Well, many things! His Book on Christmas tells him that the perfect weather needs to be snow, the perfect presents have to be in a huge pile, the perfect dinner has to include well-boiled sprouts while the perfect music to accompany it all has to be Christmas carols. Donning his Christmas hat, Sunny sets off on an adventure to find somewhere more Christmassy. Visiting his friends around the world, Sunny finds that some have snow, some have presents, some have sprouts but all have something missing …
October 2019 Book of the Month | Kate Milner, winner of the 2018 Klaus Flugge Award for most promising newcomer to children’s book illustration has certainly lived up to her laurels with this delicate and subtle picturebook, which packs a real emotional and political punch. It is a cause of great shame to many, in this country and in the 21st century, that more children than ever are living in poverty and that there has been a huge expansion in the use of foodbanks. Mum works really hard and watches every penny, but today is a no money day. Her little girl, who tells the story, takes great pleasure in life from the simple, free activities they share- visits to the library and dressing up in the charity shops. Unlike her humiliated Mum, she loves the visits to the food bank for the drink and biscuits and the kind ladies to talk to. On the way home they play the maybe one day game- dreaming of pets and washing machines and new warm clothes. They go to bed and “because of kind people our tummies are full”. Nothing is laboured in text or image- the colours are subdued but still there. The despair and tiredness of the mother is evident in every expression and nuance of body language, but so is the warmth and love between them and so is the irrepressible spirit of a child who knows they are loved even if as the pictures subtly show us, she is clearly malnourished. This is a book which can be used with a very wide range of children and will encourage empathy and discussion of a very current and appalling crisis in our society.
October 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | This book put smell, the Cinderella of the senses, into the spotlight. It examines smelly facts about the human body, some of them really rather disgusting, as well as the power and importance of our sense of smell. It looks at how animals use smell and how plants use it too to attract insects or keep animals away. And it looks at smells and smelling through history before taking a last look at weird and wonderful odours. With unusual facts and information on every page it’s well worth a nose. I was particularly fascinated by the ‘odorous occupations’ highlighted in panels throughout the book and children will be definitely tempted to try out the smelly experiments and activities it suggests too.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | October 2019 Book of the Month | There’s huge fun to be had in this gloriously interactive book which is a spur to imaginative play as well as a great introduction to familiar colours and shapes. A singing button, a tickle button and many more. All young readers will be delighted by the invitation to press each one. Once they have done so many possibilities open up as they head off into whatever invention they choose to imagine. Sally Nicholls uses her word carefully and with pleasing simplicity and Beth Woollvin’s illustrations add special details of their own.
October 2019 Book of the Month | New Yorker Leah is a tenacious, snarky queen of quips. She’s also an exceptional chess player but decides to give up the game after losing a match that, had she won, would have seen her move up the rankings to grandmaster status. Feeling the pressure of her mom and coach, feeling that she’s let down her beloved dad, she decides to get a tattoo, “proving to myself and the world that there is life after chess and that I’m not just a pawn for other people to push around.” Leah’s certainly not a girl given to being pushed around but, with the skills of a master weaver, the author sensitively shows how grief’s deep wounds underpin her anger and tendency to drive people away. When her tattoo plan is foiled by one of her blog readers, Kit, who makes big bucks from illegal chess hustling, Leah winds up making a thousand dollars in a couple of hours. It’s through the police busting one of the illegal games that she finds out about chessboxing, “the ultimate contest of brains and brawn”. The thrill Leah feels for this hybrid sport’s speed and tension is palpable, and she’s a natural at it too, with her boxing coach praising her exceptional resilience: “You never know what’s inside a fighter until they’re flat out on the canvas”, a perceptive comment that encapsulates Leah’s story journey. She’s grappling with grief, but making emotional breakthroughs and learning new skills, to the point that she’s ready to fight Death (a formidable champion chessboxer) in Vegas. With a truly pulse-quickening climax, this exceptional novel rages with raw emotion. It’s a bona fide page-turner seared with life-affirming insights into grief, friendship and finding new paths.
At LoveReading4kids we’re passionate about all the books we feature.
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.