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Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 This is a moving, funny and inspirational novel from the bestselling author of Skellig. This an outstanding novel full of warmth and light, from a multi-award-winning author. David Almond says: 'I guess it embodies my constant astonishment at being alive in this beautiful, weird, extraordinary world.' The Costa Judges said : ‘One of the most beautiful, transcendent books in the competition.’
It might be the middle of summer, but the Little Princess demands SNOW. Lots of festive fun with our feisty princess and perfect for toddlers and parents to share together particuarly as children will learn they can't always have everything they want. When the Queen goes on a trip and sends back a photo of her feeding some penguins, Little Princess decides she wants snow too. The whole palace tries all kind of things - from sandmen instead of snowmen to mudballs instead of snowballs. But this little royal won't be satisfied until she gets what she wants... and sometimes not even then!
In a nice twist on the Pied Piper story, the children of Whiffington wake up one morning to discover that all the grown-ups have disappeared, stolen away in the night by – what? Amidst the chaos of unmade beds, unbrushed teeth and unwashed dishes, Lucy Dungston is determined to rescue her mum, even when she realises that the revolting Creakers are the kidnappers. There isn’t a child in the land who hasn’t imagined something lurking under the bed, and the idea of the bumbling, muttering, smelly Creakers will give them a delicious thrill. It’s a fun adventure with a great set of lively young characters and some very exciting scenes. One to recommend to fans of Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace and The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt.
October 2018 Book of the Month | The Timmy Failure books are works of absolute comic genius and Stephan Pastis succeeds with each new story in making the adventures of Timmy and his sidekick Total the polar bear funnier, even more satisfying, and still more poignant; never more so than this the last in the series. Timmy has decided to retire from detective work but has a new project: he’s writing the script for his form’s Christmas film show, and has decided it will chronicle his own greatness. Meanwhile he is also negotiating a new relationship with his dad, now permanently on the scene, and helping reunite Total with his long lost polar bear family. The gap between what’s real and what’s real in Timmy’s imagination has never been more acute, or more affecting. The story will have readers crying with laughter, while the ending may well bring tears of a different kind. Totally great.
I If you want to guarantee smiles and laughter on Christmas morning, stick a copy of Hamish and the Terrible Terrible Christmas under the tree. It features three self-contained stories starring Hamish, Elliott and Alice, stars of Wallace’s Worldstopper series, and as with the longer novels each story serves up a brilliant helping of comedy and excitement live from Starkley. Officially Starkley may be the fourth most boring town in Britain but as fans of these books know, it’s often the scene for bizarre happenings and a magnet for marauding creatures including the beastly Terribles. Plenty of scope therefore for wild adventure and that combined with Danny Wallace’s humour make this irresistible reading. Jamie Littler’s illustrations are the icing on the Christmas cake.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series. #BookofDust will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old. La Belle Sauvage is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-beloved Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, dæmons, and the Magisterium all return to play their part. Since the ‘equel’ (as Pullman likes it to be known) to His Dark Materials was announced, fans around the globe have cheered the return of Lyra Belacqua, heroine of His Dark Materials. In a short film released by his publisher, Pullman revealed the ingredient for success behind His Dark Materials: Lyra’s ordinariness. He says: “When I wrote the first book of His Dark Materials - Northern Lights - I certainly didn't anticipate that so many people would find Lyra as interesting a character as I did.” “The thing about Lyra is that she's not a special child. She's not especially gifted or talented - she's a very ordinary child. When I was a teacher, I taught many girls who were like Lyra. They were brave, inquisitive, curious, disobedient: all those interesting things for storytellers. I think the reason that people have read this long and complicated story is because they're with Lyra. She doesn't know the things that are threatening her and she's in the same position as the reader, because the reader shares her sense of danger and excitement and curiosity about what's going to happen next. I hope the same thing will be true of Malcolm in La Belle Sauvage.” A Piece of Passion from Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK): “La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is a story for our time, with themes that resonate with our world today. It is a story for everybody: a much longed-for treat for established fans of His Dark Materials as they meet Lyra Belacqua again and the chance for new readers to step into the magical world of Philip Pullman for the first time. Pullman is a master storyteller, and Lyra has established herself firmly as one of the most-loved characters in literature, a worthy contemporary of the likes of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series), Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). In this book, she is joined by a new hero readers will love: an ordinary boy who steps up to the challenge of a lifetime.” Photo credit: Philip Pullman at a press conference held in Convocation House to launch his new novel La Belle Sauvage. © Ant Upton_Photocall Productions.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Wonder was a sensation when it was first published in 2012, and the story of Auggie and his fight to be accepted as a normal boy has now hit the big screen in a movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin. This is a special film tie-in edition. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable.
Young readers will very much enjoy Holly Webb’s typically touching new story, in which a mischievous cat works magic across the generations. Bel is staying with her grandma in her new home, an old house converted into flats for the elderly. Sneaking out early to enjoy an unexpected snowfall, she befriends a cheeky white cat but is surprised when she meets his owner, a young girl the same age as herself, but very different. In fact Bel has travelled back in time and because of her magical meeting with Snow and Charlotte, a young girl’s life is saved. Filled with warmth and love and with a neat balance between jeopardy and security, this is rounded off in the most satisfying way possible. A snowy treat!
October 2018 Book of the Month | Who better to introduce children to the world of ancient Greek myth than gladiator Julius Zebra (and if you don’t know, he really is a zebra). Julius and his band have already survived being kidnapped by Romans and thrown into the Colosseum, a stay in Britannia and a shipwreck in Egypt, but can they survive a challenge from the hero Heracles (or as Julius knows him Hairy Keith)? It brings them into contact with the Minotaur and King Midas, and ends with a trip into the underworld no less. The story is brilliantly funny as always, and action packed while there’s loads of proper information on ancient life amongst the silliness. Glorious stuff!
September 2018 Book of the Month | From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact.
Best known for his action-packed Alex Rider series, Anthony Horowitz is also a master of the macabre, as evidenced by these ten terrifying tales. Take the gruesome opener, “Bet Your Life”, that sees 16-year-old Danny participate in the finale of a TV quiz show in which there’s much more at stake than the multimillion pound prize. Other sources of shock include the sinister sat nav in a stolen BMW, a rogue Robo-Nanny, a monumentally messed-up French exchange, and a deeply disturbing incarnation of eBay on which people bid to buy humans. Then there’s the centrepiece of “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, a monstrous massage chair that serves a generous helping of just desserts to an exploitative stepdad. The stories are sharply crafted, and the writing wryly amusing, with “Note from the Chairman of Walker Books” providing a deliciously dark denouement, and added in-the-know gallows humour to those in the children’s book world. This is a tense, twisted, treat for fans of frightsome fiction, with the bite-sized narrative bursts making it ideal for reluctant readers.
Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Kate DiCamillo’s unforgettable Raymie Nightingale, now she has her own story, and what a tale it is. Louisiana has always believed that her parents were high wire stars, killed in an accident when she was very young, but driven by terrible toothache and an urge to come to terms with her own past, her granny suddenly reveals that everything Louisiana knows about her life is a lie. Abandoned in a motel miles from her old home in Florida, Louisiana is left to decide who she wants to be. She is befriended by a boy called Burke Allen and his family including his seventeen cake baking mother, and the kindness of strangers helps her to new happiness and security. A story of grief and confusion becomes one of love, hope and resilience. DiCamillo writes with extraordinary sensitivity and perception, and readers of all ages will be touched and moved by Louisiana’s story. Readers who enjoy this book should also read The Road to Ever After by Moira Young.
Lively and cannily told, this rollicking adventure mixes sci-fi, fantasy and ancient mythology. Aidan and his mum have a secret, a very unusual one: she is part dragon, able to breathe fire and with sharp, scaly claws for fingers. They’ve managed to keep this hidden, but just after Aidan has started school after years of home-schooling, someone finds out and Mum is kidnapped. With the help of his new friend Charlotte, Aidan sets out to rescue her. It turns out Mum is in real danger, along with some other unusual prisoners… The mix of ordinary life and fantasy is very well handled, and the narrative – mostly handled by Aidan but with interjections from Charlotte, and a mysterious third voice – will keep everyone on tenterhooks.
Bart self-describes as boring – in a school full of high-achieving middle-schoolers, he only stands out because he’s so dull. But if that’s so, how come his story involves bizarre creatures, last-minute escapes, daring computer hacks, double crosses, and even the threat of total global destruction? The only way to find out is to read it… No-one knows more about the creation of unputdownable fiction than James Patterson, and this is another sure-fire hit combining sharply observed school life with computer game action and surprisingly touching family dynamics. Boring it ain’t, and despite the easy-reading feel there’s lots to get kids thinking as they race through the pages.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Best friends Molly and Beth have a very special power: they can time travel! When Molly’s dad comes to live nearby, the girls realise that he is very lonely. He doesn’t see his only brother and he flatly refuses to have any kind of pet. How can the girls help him? Going back in time to the 1970s, Molly and Beth try to find out something from the past that can help them to cheer Dad up. Arriving at the time of Dad’s childhood they find that much was very different in the 1970s – cassettes for playing music, unfamiliar groups like The Bay City Rollers, some very weird hairstyles and clothes and no mobile phones! They also find out the misunderstanding when they were little boys that explains why Dad and his brother aren’t friends. A great new adventure for Molly and Beth who previously appeared in Time After Time and Stand By Me.
A week in the life of Eric Doomsday contains more chaos than most 7 year old boys could possibly achieve..but what fun! After a disastrous magic show which descended into a food fight Eric really needs to improve his reputation at school or he'll never be invited to another party again. Cue the school Talent Show and Eric sees the perfect opportunity to win back some credibility. Unfortunately for Eric the judges turn out to be aliens, here on a voyage to inspect and destroy UUURRTH. And unfortunately for the aliens Eric has a few tricks up his sleeve. This is a great early reader, with short chapters, lively artwork and the jokes keep on coming. Bonkers and brilliantly entertaining.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | The Nothing to See Here Hotel offers a 5 star reading experience for youngsters, hilarious but still exciting adventures, a fabulous setting and a cast of totally eccentric but utterly lovable characters. The hotel you see is not for humans, but magical creatures – a scenario offering all sorts of possibilities, exploited brilliantly by writer Steven Butler and illustrator Steven Lenton. In this second book, preparations for the annual Trogmanay celebrations are threatened, first by the arrival of a family of yetis (in magical snowstorm), then by something that seems a lot less friendly. Can Frankie, son of the owners and our hero, sort things out before the Trollidays are ruined? No matter how much snow and ice the yetis bring, reading this provides a real sense of warmth, and everyone will want to be part of the hotel’s community.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Tales of the rabbit secret service that loyally serves her majesty from burrows beneath Buckingham Palace, this charming series is going from strength to strength. Someone has stolen the queen’s favourite jewel – a priceless diamond that also seems able to comfort those who possess it. The Royal Rabbits are determined to retrieve it, none more so than young Shylo, who was asleep on the job when the theft occurred. A rich, beautiful and vain tigress could be the culprit, but the diamond is Russian and a team of cunning Kremlin minks are out to steal it back, and you can bet those rotten Ratzis are involved too. Humour (including the occasional bit of social satire) and proper adventure are perfectly balanced and Shylo gets more interesting a character as the stories progress. Delightful, and Kate Hindley’s illustrations make it even more special.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Susin Nielsen’s new novel features unforgettable central characters, and is beautifully written; her ear for dialogue – young teen to teen, young teen to parent, young teen to emergency services – pitch perfect. Despite being a story of homelessness and poverty, it will leave readers cheered and thoroughly reassured about the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Twelve-year old Felix lives with his mother Astrid, only rarely seeing his dad. Astrid has a flexible attitude to truth and Felix has developed a chart to measure the lies she tells as they navigate their lives. These range from ‘the invisible lie’, through the ‘no-one gets hurt’ to the biggest, the ‘someone might lose an eye’ lie. As they struggle to cope living in a (stolen) camper van, Astrid uses her panoply of lies to the full and Felix reluctantly goes along with it, ready to support his mother even when it’s really difficult. Nielsen gives him good friends, and a talent for memorising facts, both of which help to set up a better future for him. Both painful and funny, this is a book that will have readers alternatively shouting at its central characters, and cheering them on.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | Karolina is a living doll who’s been transported from the Land of the Dolls on a “kind wind” following a cruel war with the rats. She wakes “in her new world with a glass heart”, in the workshop of a dollmaker in Krakow, Poland. When Karolina speaks to him, the Dollmaker is certain that he’s lost his mind. He made her, after all, “and I can’t make something that comes to life,” he reasons. But Karolina explains that “gardeners do it all the time with flowers”. Through shimmering, lyrical language, and Karolina’s consummate compassion, we are witness to a transformation in the crotchety widower Dollmaker. He begins to smile, to make friends, to feel light and hope. And then, when darkness descends on their city in the form of the Nazis, together they must use their newfound magic to save their friends, no matter what. The author does not shirk from relating the brutal realities of the Jewish experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, yet the overriding message is one of hope and love, and the wondrousness of acts of kindness. This is a sublimely big-souled book, with an exquisite ambiance of timelessness.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
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