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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.
July 2020 Book of the Month | With characteristic vision and grace Meg Rosoff has done it again in this exquisite novel that merits a place alongside I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) for its coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence excellence. Though contemporary, it feels timeless and elementally affecting, much like the Great Godden’s impact on the family whose story it tells. With an idyllic seaside summer stretching ahead, the tingling anticipation of The Great Godden’s unnamed teenage narrator is deliciously palpable: “This year is going to be the best ever: the best weather, the best food, the best fun. The actors assembled, the summer begins.” But there are still two more actors to take to the stage - enter the Godden brothers in a shiny black car. The narrator’s older sister Mattie is immediately smitten by magnetic, handsome, self-assured Kit: “She was desperate to lose her virginity, and what sort of person would say no to Mattie? Surely not some movie star’s kid, fresh off the plane?” Though Mattie is certainly attractive, it’s obvious that charmer Kit has the upper hand of any situation, but might he also be a trouble-maker, as his curt, less-of-a-looker brother warns? Such wonderings underpin some of this novel’s essence. With the stage fully set and summer speeding towards the climax of a wedding, it poses fundamental questions about motivation, and the nature of agency, of lust, of the desire to be seen for who you are. Quivering with unease, passion and paranoia, it also reveals how past experiences engrave themselves upon us, creating fault-lines that may crack and cause future ructions. Sophisticated, seductive and smoothly readable, this is a summer story par excellence, and a coming-of-age tale for all times.
July 2020 Book of the Month | Set in the author’s native Wales during the dark days of the fifth century, Ellen Caldecott’s The Short Knife is an energetic, edge-of-your-seat page-turner with present-day resonance as 21st-century Britain - island of migrants - faces the challenge of forging an identity independent of continental Europe. With the Romans compelled to leave Britain after 400 years, the island is on the brink of collapse. Amidst this uncertainty and the chaos of Saxon invasion, thirteen-year-old Mai is cared for by her dad and sister (she lost her mam when she was three), and wrestling with her “anger at the people free to flee into the hills. Anger at all the world and everyone in it. I want to open my mouth and let the fire out, burn it all into blackness.” When Saxon warriors turn up at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the dangerous hills themselves. Mai must cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood if she’s to survive in a hostile world in which speaking in her mother tongue might turn out to be fatal. The cinematic scene-setting, first person narrative, and succinct, magnetically lyrical style make for a thrilling experience that will hook the most reluctant of readers. Recommended for fans of Caroline Lawrence and Damian Dibben’s The History Keepers series, this offers enlightening insights into British history with fresh flair, and through the eyes of a compelling main character.
July 2020 Book of the Month | They may be a family of hyenas, but if we were all like the Bolds the world would be a much better place. In case you don’t know, the Bolds live disguised as humans in Teddington. Their two children attend the local primary, and both parents work: Mr Bold writes cracker jokes, Mrs Bold designs extravagant hats. In this story, Mr Bold’s mother arrives from Africa for a visit, and struggles rather with her son’s new lifestyle choice. It looks like the family will be exposed, but the story takes a different turn, and once again the Bolds come to the aid of someone who needs their help. The story is deliciously bonkers, the illustrations just as witty and full of quirky detail, and the Bolds’ live-and-let-live philosophy is a breath of fresh air in our quarrelsome times. If you want everyone to go to sleep smiling and happy, make this your bedtime reading.
July 2020 Book of the Month | A day in the park with his friends turns into a calamity for robot Bernard. A series of alarming squeaks and clangs points to problems with one thing - his bottom! Something’s clearly wrong with it and Bear has to take it away. That makes Bernard No-Bot again but not for long: his friends are determined to find him the perfect new bottom. This much-loved author-illustrator team specialise in the silly, and this is deliciously daft from start to finish (top to bottom!) and will have small children laughing uncontrollably.
July 2020 Book of the Month | From the author of exceptional YA novels like What Momma Left Me and Piecing Me Together comes this beautiful bighearted story for 7+ year-olds – a true treasure about everyday family life, being yourself and making the best of things, with an unforgettable African American heroine at its luminous heart. Keen cook Ryan and her family live in Portland, Oregon, and she’s not best pleased when they have to move to a smaller house as a result of her dad’s new job paying less than the one he lost a while back. But Ryan’s not the kind of girl to complain for long, or to let anything get her down. She’s one of life’s thinkers and doers, whose loving parents have infused her with a life-affirming sense of self-worth and pride in her heritage: “I remember what Mom always tells me, how she named me Ryan because she wanted me to feel powerful, to remember that I am a leader every time someone calls my name. Dad is always telling me our people come from royalty, that my ancestors lived in Africa and were kings and queens and inventors and hard workers. Mom tells me their strength is running through my veins.” Told through manageable interlinked vignettes, this soulfully illustrated gem - the first in a series - sits in the tradition of Judy Blume’s young fiction and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, but it’s also refreshingly unique. The pitch-perfect evocation of Ryan’s grace and warmth, and her positive perspective will entertain and inspire young readers, while helping them understand the world and handle change.
July 2020 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | In this important new resource, author Cerrie Burnell has put together a fascinating collection of inspiring stories. As she says in her introduction when she was growing up as a child born with just one hand “there just weren’t enough books with a disabled protagonist” and “Everyone deserves to see someone like them in a story and achieving something great” Her own achievements are themselves inspirational and she has long been a disability rights campaigner as well as much loved CBeebies presenter and children’s author and so the whole book is infused with authenticity and passion. A double page spread for each of the 34 role models and two special sections on mental health and “invisible disabilities” are all evocatively illustrated by comic artist and graphic designer, Lauren Baldo capturing the time and spirit of the featured individual and giving real context to the highly readable and fascinating life stories. Starting in 1770 with Beethoven and finishing in 2001 with the birth of black, transgender disabled model superstar Aaron Philip, the life stories are commendably international and wide ranging, challenging our preconceived ideas of what is possible. From the familiar Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder to the less well known like break dancer Redouan Ait Chit, mountaineer Arunima Sinha, lawyer Catalina Devandas to celebrities like Lady Gaga,whose disability was a complete surprise to me, these stories will open eyes and minds. A comprehensive glossary and helpful discussion of language choices around disability and representation throughout add even more usefulness to this essential and attractive resource.
‘One day, we found an octopus/ had come to live on top of us.’ Those are the opening lines of this glorious picture book – how could you not want to know what happens next? The octopus itself is unmissable – huge and an eye-catching fluorescent orange colour – slightly non-plussed looking perched atop of a very neat little house. Some of the neighbours are not too welcoming, calling the fire brigade to try and force it off, fortunately with little success because once the children of the house and their friends start playing with the octopus, barriers are broken and the advantages of having an eight-legged chum become clear. Illustrator Steven Lenton rises brilliantly to all the challenges set by Peter Bently’s ingenious rhymes depicting the various ways in which the octopus helps around the house – often eight different activities at a time, plus one very special octo-tastic Christmas tree. Making friends has never been so much fun and it all comes to a wonderfully octopussy conclusion too. Fabulous!
July 2020 Book of the Month | There’s never been a better time to encourage children to dream up adventures and then turn them into written stories. This lively how-to book will certainly inspire them and is packed with story-writing ideas to get them started, and a wealth of really good writing advice (whatever your age). Its author Joanne Owen is herself a successful writer for children and it shows. She shares real tips of the trade, from ways to spark ideas to techniques that will make your writing really effective. There are lots of practical exercises, all of them fun and stimulating. With space to write your stories down, young writers can get going straightaway and the lessons they learn will be useful throughout their lives. Get a copy in time for National Writing Day on 24th June, a chance for everyone to enjoy some creative writing. **** Read a Q&A with the author, Joanne Owen with tips for writing and recommendations for Summer Reading
November 2016 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: welcome to the wonderful world of Zoella ‘Blogging is all about community’ says Penny, the central character in Going Solo, the third novel from Zoe Suggs. You won’t need me to tell you that Suggs is better known as blogger Zoella, best-online-friend to millions and Penny, it seems, is closely based on the author herself. Like Zoella, Penny shares the ups and downs of her life with her band of online followers, including her details of her anxieties and panic attacks, which are described with impressive honesty. If Penny’s life is rather more glamourous than most – with an on-off pop star boyfriend, and fast-tracked career in photography beckoning – then it’s made clear too that she suffers just as much from insecurity and self-doubt as any of her readers, and that she gets through with the help of friends, family and that online community. It makes for a bright, breezy read and underneath the sparkle there’s a rather important message about life, and how to have a happy one. Ten million Instagram followers can’t all be wrong, you know. Readers who love this will also enjoy Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series and Cathy Cassidy’s Chocolate Box Girls series. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2018 Book of the Month Beautifully illustrated by Jo Riddell, this collection of poems and stories is a perfect gift book. It’s ideal for dipping into, for quiet reading and for reading aloud; indeed, unusually amongst the stories, haikus and poems, there are a couple of rhyming plays too, great fun for the family or a group of friends. Single collections of poems are relatively rare these days, and it’s lovely to find one that gives the poet the space and time to explore ideas and return to themes. Poetry speaks to children directly, and this should become a real favourite, a book, to quote Rachel Rooney’s review, ‘to spark the imagination’. Other recommended anthologies for children include A Poem for Every Day of the Year edited by Allie Esiri, and Kate Wakeling’s CLiPPA winner Moon Juice.
May 2018 Book of the Month | Zach King’s family have magical powers, and for a glorious short couple of weeks he did too. Now though, he’s back to being a normal kid, with no way to create the mind-blowing spectacles that won him thousands of Youtube views. There’s another blow when a cool new kid asks Zach’s friend and crush Rachel to the school dance. Can Zach borrow his family’s magic to prove that he’s still the guy for her? The action is fast and funny, especially when the borrowed magic proves harder for Zach to control than expected. Pages of text are interspersed with colour pictures and cartoon strip style illustration, and this is another classic school caper given a quirky, appealing contemporary twist.
Dark romance meets haunting murder mystery in this captivating tale of love, death and destiny. At Gottfried Academy, just one kiss will take your breath away. After Renee discovers her parents dead in what appears to be a strange double murder, she is sent to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, 'crude sciences', and Latin: the Language of the Dead. Here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student.
May 2012 Book of the Month. Matters of life and death and the role of a passionate romance in them lie at the heart of this spellbinding story of how the worlds of the dead and the living cross over and collide. Gottfried Academy is no ordinary school…It’s a place where Latin thrives and the Undead and the living make friends. Renee is a Monitor at the Academy; she can sense death even though she can’t predict it. And she has a vital role to play among the Undead. When Renee meets Dante she knows he is her soulmate. But he is an undead. Will Renee give up her life to save him?
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | August 2016 Book of the Month Full of life, energy and a wild sense of freedom, Nothing is a marvellous celebration of the imagination, and that special relationship between child and grandparent too. ‘What are you doing?’ Mum asks exasperated, as Lila plays under the table when she should be getting ready. Pictures reveal the wonderful things Lila is up to – she’s wrestling an octopus, riding a zebra, climbing a pylon! Mum is busy, but grandad is ready to play pretend with Lila and the final scene shows them flying through the air like birds. Words and images work perfectly together to deliver a sense of unbridled joy, and Lila is a wonderful little character. ~ Andrea Reece
Full of stylish images, this is a chunky board book from the author of My Animals with cunning holes and cutaways that reveal the different and lively characters that perform at the circus. A clown, magician, jugglers and a tightrope walker all make their appearance wittily and with an element of magic – as befits all circus performers.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | May 2019 Book of the Month | “I am normal. I like being normal”. Such is the mantra of fifteen-year-old Sam. But when he’s uprooted from his Stevenage comp and thrust into the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented being normal just doesn’t cut it. Simple as. No ifs or buts. To fit in at this “poncey arty farty school” for “Exactly the Kind of People [Sam] Instinctively Hated”, a person needs to stand out. Gel one’s hair in eight directions. Be the offspring of, for example, an Argentinian tango dancer, or a French electro-pop pioneer. The comic characterisation of Sam and his family is as impeccably tuned as a Primrose Hill piano, from his mum’s foray into Hampstead yummy mummy blogger-dom, to his unicorn-obsessed little sister. Sam’s hilariously honest, self-deprecating tone is utterly engaging and put me in mind of an older incarnation of Luke from David Solomons’s fabulously funny Superhero books. Talking of funny, Sam’s turning point turns out to be his talent for comedy (“making people laugh was a thrilling buzz”), and so he finds himself in the unlikely position of performing in the school play. This entertaining romp around pressures to fit in and teenage boy-dom in all its involuntary undercarriage-twitching awkwardness truly shows the diverse talent of its author, whose previous YA novels are every bit as brilliant, but have heavier themes. This is a laugh-out-loud witty wonder of a book.
Horror stalks this scary second adventure for Jake who must now lead the war against the Demon Father, newly escaped from hell. Jake’s previous success in closing the demon door shows his prowess but has he the courage to go back into the past and change the course of history? Jake is a great hero and his world is a grimly ghastly one. This is the sequel to Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide. A 'piece of passion' from the editor of the Witchfinder series The Witchfinder series was my first acquisition for the Oxford University Press children's list and from the first page I was hooked. I knew that I had to be the one to bring this book to the world. I urge you to read both the first one and this one and find out for yourselves. With its mix of magic and science, horror and beautiful writing, it is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read and I envy you your first foray into the world of Witchfinder...
September 2016 Fascinating Facts Book of the Month Anything you can imagine, you can animate says this stimulating book, and it explains clearly and simply the ten key skills readers need to become expert animators, starting with flipbook loops and ending with special effects, lighting and camera skills. The instructions are carefully worded to be friendly and easy to follow, while the colour illustrations on every page help to explain the different processes, and keep it all feeling fun and uncomplicated. There are lots of extra handy tips in text flashes, a page of useful links and a glossary with definitions of technical and unfamiliar terms. This is an inspiring and really useful guide for young would-be animators. ~ Andrea Reece
Full of supernatural suspense, this is a thrilling sequel to Triskellion, which works also as a stand alone read. Twins Rachel and Adam have managed to escape from the dangers of Treskellion only to find themselves kidnapped. Adam seems destined to become the latest specimen in a sinister scientific organization’s latest gruesome experimentation. To survive, the twins must race across Europe to an unknown destination which will link them to others with similar unusual powers.
Having narrowly escaped the clutches of the Hope Project, Rachel and Adam begin a new life in Australia. Their tranquillity is shattered, however, by the reappearance of Gabriel - and the terrifying adventure that they had hoped was over begins again. Hunted by enemies old and new, their journey to discover the third, and final, Triskellion takes them home to New York, where they finally learn the chilling truth about their ancestry... Click here for the Triskellion trilogy website.
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.
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