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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.
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.
June 2021 Book of the Month | Recommended by Stephen L Holland, Guest Editor, June 2021: Eliza Duncan is a direct and diligent, no-nonsense teen with a passion for photography and a focus on ghosts. Marjorie Glatt found her laundromat infested with white-sheeted ghosts: with its washes, tumble-dries and ironing, they thought it the perfect health spa. She adopted one called Wendell as her best friend. But now she has been adopted–by her school’s most popular students who rule the roost by putting everyone else down. Marjorie, once a victim of this, feels awkward about her newfound immunity for she fails to speak up for others, particularly when they start picking on Eliza who’s determined that there are ghosts, that she’ll snap one on celluloid, and soon has her sights set on Wendell. Astonishingly complex, this comes with layers of self-awareness, self-examination yet blind spots and moments of betrayal from even the kindest of corners. Also: is this not the most perfect cover? What a narrative drive! Thummler totally owns her unique colour palette.
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).
March 2021 Book of the Month | Co-written by Brendan Kiely and the always-exceptional Jason Reynolds, All American Boys is an immensely powerful, timely novel about police brutality against young Black men. Shining a stark light on white privilege and the racism implicit in not speaking out, it’s a punch-packing wake-up call for us all to stand up and plant ourselves on the right side of history. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong colour. It all goes wrong for Black sixteen-year-old Rashad when a cop jumps to the unfounded conclusion that he’s shoplifted a bag of chips. Rashad’s arrest is brutal and the cop, Paul, leaves him with internal bleeding and broken bones. There were witnesses though, among them Quinn, a rising basketball star from Rashad’s school who also happens to know Paul. In fact, Paul has been like a father to Quinn since his dad died on service in Afghanistan, which puts him in a tricky situation - speaking out against Paul would sever his friendship and support ties. But Quinn’s decision to keep quiet unravels when footage of the incident is picked up by the media, with everyone in town taking a side. As a powerful “Rashad is absent” school campaign gains momentum along with plans for a big protest march, Quinn realises that not speaking up is a form of racism, that as an “All-American” white boy he can walk away from anything. “Well, I was sick of it,” he decides. “I was sick of being a dick”. Aware that his dad had inspired Paul to become a cop to “make a difference in the world”, Quinn resolves to be like his dad too, but not in the sense of being loyal to his country and family, which is how people always frame his father’s heroism. Quinn means in the sense of standing up for what he believes in; being “someone who believed a better world was possible - someone who stood up for it.” Packed with plenty of moments that will make you melt and tear up (such as Rashad’s relationship with the hospital shop volunteer, and the bonds between him and his buddies and big brother), this is a smart, incisive, rousing read for our times.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Jeanne Willis is one of our funniest writers for children, but she can do poignancy and tenderness with equal skill. Hom is the story of a shipwreck. A young boy is washed up on a desert island and there discovers Hom, a peace-loving hairy little creature, the last of his kind. The two become best of friends, playing and laughing together; after all, as the boy says, ‘We’re much more alike than different.’ When the chance of escape from the island comes, the boy decides not to take it, in case the arrival of bigger people puts Hom into danger. It’s a touching story of friendship, family and the importance of kindness, to others but to our planet too. Adults will realise that Hom is short for Hominid, his presence a reminder of our past, our connections to the natural world, and its fragility. Illustrator Paddy Donnelly creates a wonderfully lush and vibrant desert island, and his characters are equally warm and alive.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Forget Midsomer, Muddlemoor Village is a proper crime hotspot, especially with the annual Great Village Bake Off approaching. Joe is there for the holidays staying at his Granny’s and cousins Tom and Pip are too. The three children are alert for any kind of suspicious activity and have always suspected granny’s neighbour, former MI6 spy (so she says) Anthea and when Granny’s secret recipe for chocolate fudge layer cake goes missing, they’re immediately on the case. Ruth Doyle has a keen understanding of how children see the world, and an excellent ear for the way they speak too and this lively story is full of honest to goodness fun and adventure. I particularly like Pip – quiet, a thinker, not afraid of breaking rules, and quite often to be found upside down in a handstand. The hunt for the missing recipe unfolds wonderfully and there’s a twist at the end that Agatha Christie would be proud of. Marta Kissi’s illustrations are really lovely too.
Casting Mona Lisa as a self-important, been there, done that, bought-the-t-shirt-in-the- museum-gift-shop character (“She loved the attention! She loved the crowds…I know everything and everyone knows me”), Yevgenia Nayberg’s Mona Lisa in New York presents a playful, strikingly-illustrated picture book ode to New York’s distinctive wonders through its unique, irreverent take on a 500-year-old enigma. After journeying across the ocean “so people far away could also admire her beauty”, and being marvelled at by crowds in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mona Lisa is in for a shock when she decides to wander the city alone at night and gets lost. No problem, she thinks. Everyone knows who I am. Except they don’t. In fact, “No one paid any attention to her.” Thankfully, she encounters Tag, a graffiti art character from Brooklyn. While Mona Lisa is loath to accept that she’s the same as Tag, and while she initially insists that she knows everything, Tag kindly takes her hand and shows her NYC in all its kaleidoscopic glory - they listen to jazz in Harlem, eat pizza in the Bronx, salsa dance on the High Line, and swim on Brighton Beach. “Turns out there’s so much I didn’t know,” she admits when they part. It also turns out that New York has captured Mona Lisa’s heart. Great for introducing little ones to New York, this will also make an excellent springboard for talking about art and culture in all their forms.
March 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Catherine Doyle brilliantly weaves together magic and mythology and friendship and weather in a story that blows the reader along with the Storm Keepers themselves. Can Fionn Boyle keep Arranmore safe from the Morrigan and her brothers? Will the magic in the last candle be enough? Catherine Doyle is a gifted story teller. While she conjures up enough terrifying dark moments as the battle against the forces of darkness rage to give a real sense of fear she is also warm hearted and has the lightest of touches. The result is the creation of a magical world that will captivate readers.
April 2021 Book of the Month | This bestseller that dominated the adult charts for some considerable number of weeks has now been adapted for younger readers losing something like 100 pages in the process. This is the life story of Michelle Obama, from her poor but happy childhood on the Southside of Chicago to her current position as an ex-First Lady of the United States. It is written in a text that flows well – and gives the reader a searingly honest view of what life was like, the struggles and triumphs of a thoughtful, driven young black woman to get to top class US universities and gain excellent qualifications from them and to find her place in the world. Her meeting with Barack and their early life before politics impinged. Then, through the stages of their political life as a family – told in such a way that it is relatively easy to understand the complex political set-up in the US (something I always find rather confusing!) The highlight for me was seeing just how much Michelle was passionate about helping young people get what they needed – a better life, better nutrition, minority recognition and a sense of self-worth – which started whilst she was in college and continues right through her story. Her love of family and dislike for partisan politics – even whilst she had to exist within the political system – give one hope for the future and those young people she helped. A very readable and accessible biography for anyone with an interest in recent US history. Highly recommended.
March 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | A wonderful introduction to how a modern place somewhere in the UK will have been created over the centuries, this beautiful picture book cleverly records the history of a place as it would look from the perspective of an oak tree. Oaks are famous for the exceptional number of years that they live and their permanence makes an interesting contrast to how frequently humans change the landscape. “I first was an acorn, so tiny and round,/I fell from a branch and sank into the ground./ Then as I grew up, I turned into a tree…/ over hundreds of years! So, what did I see?” Taken together, the simple rhyming text matched by beautiful and carefully detailed illustrations offer a delightful history lesson. The book ends with a useful timeline: "What was happening in the world while the oak tree grew?". It comes right up to the present with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus!
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.