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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.
March 2021 Book of the Month | 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.
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 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | This visually astonishing story takes children on a journey into and through the brain. Simple but beautifully illustrated metaphors explain the different jobs that our brains do, and how they use brain cells to accomplish them. From the senses to sleep, memories to making decisions, this book brings the wonder of brains and brain science to life.
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!
March 2021 Book of the Month | Forna has taken her own experiences of sexism and racism that she experienced as a woman from Sierra Leone living in the US on which to base this novel. This has created a powerful depiction of the oppression and cruelty meted out to women who are different from a society’s accepted roles. Set in the patriarchal fantasy world of Otera, this is based in an ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is only as good as her proven purity. This purity is proven by the woman being made to bleed – in a brutal ceremony when they reach the age of 16. When Deka bleeds gold this is deemed the colour of impurity, and she is declared a demon. Not only is she thrust out of the home and society she has known since birth, but she is also subjected to unspeakable acts of brutality and violence by the ruling priesthood. The fact Deka does not die from all the brutality gives one hope she is different and may have some role in the future of Otera. This proves so – Deka is rescued and taken to a training ground for women where she finds a friendship and sisterhood amongst others also found to be impure. As they train the ‘impure’ girls are paired with soldiers from the Imperial jatu fighting force – and some form deep and lasting friendships with their partners. The characters here are hugely diverse with Black, Asian and Brown main, and minor characters, with a recognition of diverse sexuality too. The power of this novel is in the strong, horrifying but ultimately hopeful end of this story. There is much violence – in both punitive killing and re-killings of demons by the priests, but also in the violent backstories of some of the girls (including an instance of rape.) The book explores themes of feminist possibility whilst being based in a fantasy world taking inspiration from ancient West African culture. A powerful read, not for the faint-hearted but very definitely giving hope for the future, showing that there is a place to be whatever you wish to be – homemaker or fighter. This is a strong start to what promises to be a trilogy.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Calling all parents facing food-related meltdowns! After introducing your food-fussy progeny to this instructive interactive picture book, you’ll never need to make a meal of meal-time again. Recommended by paediatric dieticians, it introduces children to a rainbow of delicious food through a fun family-oriented story. What’s more, the story can be lived off-the-page during real-life trips to the supermarket, helping to convince hard-to-please kids to try new foods and, as a result, it’s also certain to please parents frazzled by food-related friction. The story begins with Mummy despairing of the food in the cupboard. “She couldn’t find anything she wanted to make for dinner… I’m so bored of beige!” she grumbles. So, after deciding that “what we need is some colour!” Mummy heads to the supermarket, where she challenges her two toddlers to pick three kinds of food, the only proviso being that they must be red. Then follows a delightfully illustrated page of ravishing red foods that invites readers to decide what they’d choose. Each day they return to the shop, where the kids are issued with a fresh challenge - pick three yellow foods, three green, three orange, three purple. By the time Saturday comes around and the kids find Mummy eating a boring beige croissant, they make her a special colourful breakfast.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Scaredy Cat demands they follow his rules or he'll cause all kinds of trouble - knock over lamps, spill kitty litter, and even get them shipped back to the animal shelter! But Pasha and Poop are stubborn and rebellious. They won't follow the Scaredy Cat's ridiculous rules like all of the other pets on the block. Together, they set out to find the truth behind who the Scaredy Cat really is, and how they can end his mischief-making for good.
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 | 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.
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.
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!
Multi- award-winning Brain 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 and classroom libraries.
Enter the hilarious world of Billie Upton Green . . . The start of an exciting new series full of Billie's laugh-out-loud observations and doodles! There is a new girl at Billie's school, and Billie takes it upon herself to show her around, teach her the Biscuit Laws, and remind her that yes, two women can get married (after all, Billie's mums' wedding is the event of the year). But then suspicion sets in. The new girl seems very close to Billie's best friend Layla. And doesn't she know a little too much about the latest big school heist - the theft of Mrs Robinson's purse...?
This is a fast-paced fantasy adventure filled with thrills, humour and the most charismatic anti-heroes in teen fiction. It’s a highly anticipated read for 2021, and we’re certain you’ll be gripped throughout and hungry for more adventures by the end.
Run wild with Wolf Brother in a Stone Age world we all want to be a part of with million-copy-selling author, Michelle Paver. Danger, magic and non stop adventure await Torak, Renn and Wolf in a devastating Dark Time that threatens everything they know. The Clans will be tested as never before, as they battle to find ways to survive and thrive in their beloved Forest. In the Dark Time of midwinter, disaster strikes the Forest. Chaos rules. Bears woken from their dens prowl the shadowy valleys. Desperate clans battle for survival. Only demons thrive. With their world in turmoil, Torak, Renn and Wolf are tested as never before. And as a new evil haunts the devastated land, Torak must risk his sanity, his life and even his souls to save everything he loves... Skin Taker carries you back to the Stone Age, drawing you deeper into the astonishing adventure which began with Wolf Brother and has captivated millions of readers.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Cookie is one of those characters who have the best intentions, but just can’t help getting into scrapes and mix ups, and readers will love her all the more for it. In this new adventure, her plans for a plastic-free birthday party are overtaken by circumstances and before we know it, she’s accidentally become best friends with Suzie Ashby, got a detention, upset her friend Jake, and handed over £25 to take part in Woodburn Primary’s very own F Factor, which turns out to be not what she expected at all. Cookie being Cookie, it all works out in the end and everyone, the reader included, has lots of fun along the way. Konnie Huq clearly remembers what it is to be a ten year old very well indeed and Cookie’s fast flowing, tangent-embracing, stream of consciousness narrative is a delight. Huq’s own black and white illustrations are the perfect complement to the text, giving us even clearer insight into what’s going on in Cookie’s head. A fast, fresh and very funny read.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | 10-year-old Opie Jones is smart, but otherwise pretty ordinary. She doesn’t much enjoy her school, St Francis of Assisi, until seriously cool Jackson takes her under his wing anyway. But there is one really remarkable thing about Opie and that is she can read animals’ minds and communicate with them. Before you can say, ‘Call Chris Packham’, she’s working with a team of secret superheroes to thwart a dastardly villain whose plans for domination include closing down St Francis by forcing its pupils to misbehave, via telepathy. The story that follows is as funny as you’d expect from author, stand-up comic Nat Luurtsema, especially the frequent interjections from assorted animals, who have their own views on what’s going on. The climax comes at London Zoo, which gives you an idea of the levels of fun and games to expect. It’s book one in a series and I for one cannot wait to hear more from Maine Coon cat Margot and guinea pig Malcolm. One to recommend to fans of David Baddiel’s children’s books.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Old Macdonald had a phone, e-i-e-i-o. Very useful it is too, helping him get organised and run the farm. But then he drops it in the lake, and when ordering a replacement, accidentally buys 100. The animals all take one, and chaos ensues. They are all so busy on their phones – here a tweet, there a chat – that nothing gets done and Old Macdonald has no milk, or eggs to sell. Fortunately, he finds a solution, and everyone lives happily – a chat-chat here, and a selfie there, but not all day – that seems fair! It’s another clever, very funny cautionary tale for our online times from the brilliant duo of Willis and Ross. The rhymes make it bliss to read aloud, and the illustrations are a spritely delight. Funny, clever and we can all learn from it – what more could you ask? Smiley face. Look out too for the other books in this fabulous series, Chicken Clicking, Troll Stinks and #Goldilocks.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe. Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence. Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
February 2021 Book of the Month | A Tangle of Spells is book three in Michelle Harrison’s series of stories about the Widdershins sisters and just as magical as the first two, which is really saying something. The three girls have moved to a new village and though it seems idyllic, beneath the surface something dark is lurking. When eldest sister Fliss falls under a strange enchantment, it’s up to Betty and Charlie to save her and in the process to break the spell that’s affecting the whole of Pendlewick too. The story crackles with magic and just the right level of spookiness and jeopardy. The three sisters are some of the liveliest, most individual and most appealing characters you’re likely to meet, and reading about them is like being part of the family. For readers who love fairytale fantasy and adventure, it doesn’t come better than this.
February 2021 Book of the Month | 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.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Written and illustrated by Jion Sheibani, Sohal Finds a Friend is a sweet side-splitting story that will provide much comfort to little worriers as they enjoy an adventure in the company of an endearing boy and his furry friends. It’s a brilliant way to help children understand their anxieties and express themselves - think Pixar’s Inside Out in book form. Sohal is one of life’s worriers and dreads bedtime, when “the darkness would grow and grow, until it filled every part of his body”. His dad’s suggestion of calm breathing doesn’t help, and his mum’s suggestion of counting sheep is useless too, for in Sohal’s mind they’re transformed into mutant alien sheep fleeing a giant robot wolf! But everything changes when he draws the monsters that plague him and…THEY COME TO LIFE! With Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big, and Alone for company, Sohal’s attention is diverted to worrying about them - what will everyone at school think? – but it’s not long before The Worries help him understand and control his own worries, while providing a whole lot of fun. Funny, with thoughtful themes that foster off-the-page dialogue, this is a warm-hearted winner for 5+ year-olds. You can find more books on this theme in our Anxiety & Wellbeing collection.
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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