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The books in this section all have a theme of conservation, raising environmental awareness and/or championing green issues.
The benefits – to physical and mental health – of going out for a walk are widely acknowledged, and they are all captured in this bright, joyful picture book. We join little Maya as she sets out for a walk, grown up in tow. There are so many fun things they can do together, from spying tiny secrets – busy ants scurrying, baby plants sprouting – to listening out for noises or copying animals. Each double page is lively, full of things to spot and name, and Maya herself is a busy bundle of energy at the centre of it all. It ends with Maya tucked up in bed and an invitation to think about the walk you will take as you drift off to sleep, while a final spread reminds us of all the things we can do on a walk. Walking, whatever the destination, will be much more fun after reading this.
Princess Olivia lives a life of luxury in a palace high on a mountain in her father’s kingdom, until the day it becomes a republic that is. Forced to move down into the city, she soon realises it’s a whole new world, and nowhere near as clean or healthy as it should be. Discovering a talent for science Olivia sets out with her new friends Ravi and Helga to work out what’s killing the trees, causing all the downpours, and filling the air with smog. Written by Lucy Hawking, daughter of scientist Stephen Hawking, the story succeeds both as a fun and exciting riches to not-quite-rags adventure and as an eye-opening introduction to climate change and its causes. As Olivia learns what is heating up the atmosphere so will readers especially as the book also contains additional information sections specially written by leading scientists. There are messages too about the importance of community and democracy and this is a rousing, lively and effective introduction to the issue of our time.
The planets are going on holiday. Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Uranus, Mercury, Neptune and Saturn – they’re all packed and ready to go. But apparently there’s no room on the bus for Earth. She’s upset, and then determined so she sets off in her car and confronts the others about why didn’t they let her on. Their answer is surprising: they left her out because they think she’s got fleas… When Earth points out what the real reason is for all that movement, the others are amazed at the myriad of birds, fish, animals and insects that live on Earth. She explains to them too that they can’t catch the things she’s got, to support life you have to be just right. In Alex Latimer’s illustrations all the planets have personalities and their holiday to the Milky Way looks like great fun. There’s a message to learn about being kind to others, but lots of information to pick up too on the planets and their characteristics, and it’s all delivered in a satisfying rhyming text. And how can you resist any book that depicts the moon as a friendly little dog?
This impactful tale is beautifully crafted from a variety of viewpoints, written in a mixture of prose, narrative verse and journal entries, woven together with evocative illustrations by Natalie Sirett. While it is Kai’s story and his fall into darkness that is at the heart of the story, we also hear the voices of Orla, from the high-rise flats like Kai, and Zak from the big houses across the other side of the wilderness. This is the place where they spent most of their out of school time growing up and where they discovered and restored the bothy, which becomes the dramatic backdrop to astounding creativity but also danger, degradation, despair and near death. We later hear from new arrival Omid who has faced trauma and loss himself, which helps him make the connection with Kai, whose family has fallen apart following the loss of his beloved baby sister Sula. Despite the best efforts of his friends, Kai falls in with a dangerous crowd, gets excluded and his self-destruction seems inevitable. But the bonds forged in their childhood ultimately prove stronger. Kai’s deep connection to nature and in particular to a pair of ravens, who have their own narration, and the creativity which is sparked by Omid’s inspiring art, help to bring him home. There are so many important themes in this multi-layered novel which speaks so powerfully about the importance of urban green spaces and community and the way society can fail to recognise the true value of things. This highly original novel perfectly captures raw adolescent emotions and fills the reader with empathy and understanding. Highly recommended.
Framed in the context of a sweet grandfather telling a favourite tale to his library-loving granddaughter, Polly Ho-Yen's The Boy Who Grew a Tree is a pitch-perfect charmer for 5+ year-olds wondering what it will mean to have a new sibling. It’s also a beautiful book about the magic of nature, stories and libraries, and the coming together of a community, with Sojung Kim-McCarthy’s softly emotive illustrations adding further beauty and depth. Timi has always loved growing things, and now his mum is growing something too – his baby sister. While he imagines his sister “to be like one of his seedlings”, at the same time it was almost “impossible to believe there really was a baby in his Mum’s tummy”. Amidst this confusion, as the arrival of his little sister draws ever closer, Timi discovers something rather strange and magical in his local library – the little green shoot of a tree, which grows to an incredible size after he tends and waters it. Sadly, though, the library is due to close, but perhaps Timi, his friends, and the magic of the tree can convince the grown-ups to change their plans and protect both the tree and the library. Exquisitely simple and stirring, this will be a delight to share.
May 2022 Debut of the Month | This is a brilliant debut novel from the winner of the World Illustration Awards Overall New Talent winner for 2020. The unnamed city wakes up to a small amount of water everywhere and everybody ignores it and gets on with their lives, except for one small creature who knows it will become a problem, but nobody listens. As life in the city becomes more and more problematic even the large creatures realise they must help the smaller ones, they all become fed up with having to deal with the issues of working in water all the time. Even the excitement of wearing Wellington boots all the time is not enough! It is at this point that everyone realises they must work together to solve the problem and to not let this sort of thing happen ever again. Illustrated in muted colours with a vibrant pantone blue for the water there is much humour in the illustrations and text, with many laugh out loud images before everyone realises that something must be done. The solution is simple when everyone works together. The text is minimal. I recommend this strong new talent in the making. The book has a strong climate change and community message that is vital for everyone now. This is a book that will appeal to all ages even though it is intended for the young. I look forward to seeing much more from Mariajo.
A special 10th anniversary edition of The Journey Home, the debut book by the first-ever UK recipient of the amazing 'Sendak Fellowship' and created with input from the great Maurice Sendak himself. It's the story of a polar bear who heads off in a boat looking for somewhere new to live and on the way he picks up other endangered friends including an orangutan, an elephant and a panda to name just three. It's a beautiful book, full of things for parents to talk about with their children as they read it.
From killers to conservationists, the story of three generations of the Petersen family, their history as whale hunters and later their mission to save the great whales and our planet. Summer, the Present. Fiery and fi erce, computer geek and eco-activist, Abby is holidaying with hergrandmother on an island off the Norwegian coast. Having developed and befriendedan AI computer, Moonlight, she hopes to organise a global protest. On the island, shelearns her great grandfather rejected the family's whaling livelihood, instead creatingthe fi rst whale song recording. Inspired by him, Abby and Moonlight translate thewhales' songs and discover their stories. Whales are under threat, their numbersrapidly dwindling. Abby is determined to help. Autumn, 30 years later. The world's ecosystems are collapsing. There is no sight or sound of whales. Abby, herdaughter, Tonje, and a now almost conscious Moonlight live on a isolated island in the Atlantic. They search for any sign of whales, but so far there is only silence. Winter, the future. Tonje's search was not in vain. Despite climate crisis and the threat of extinction,there is always hope for the future, as nature and technology combine in acaptivating, action-packed story with a powerful environmental call to arms.
This is adventure number six for the Bolds, a family of hyenas living happily in Teddington disguised as humans. Let’s hope there will be more too, because there are very few stories more joyful, cheering and entertaining than these and only Paddington to compare for characters as lovable and inspirational. If you’ve read previous Bolds books, you’ll know that they’re always ready to help other animals and to open their doors to those in need. Of course therefore they give homeless aardvark Annika a warm welcome and set out to track down her missing friends, escapees from the same zoo, Charlie the skunk and Fergie the fruit bat. The latter, we discover, have been camping out in Parliament Square with friendly eco-warriors. Can the Bolds find them somewhere permanent (and quieter) to live? This is the Bolds, so of course the answer is yes. Gloriously silly, genuinely heart-warming and beautifully plotted, it all ends with a special party for twins Betty and Bobby Bold, and an ‘au revoir’ to another friend, Fifi, the singing poodle superstar. She promises to return, ‘Wherever life might take me, my heart belongs with the Bolds.’ That will be true for all the dear readers too, this one included.
Caribbean folklore meets futuristic fantasy in Alake Pilgrim’s Zo and the Forest of Secrets, an exhilarating Middle Grade adventure driven by the determination of its endearing heroine and the shocking secrets she finds in the forest. This is heartily recommended for readers who are into adventure, fantasy and ecological issues – it’s an an absolute page-turner with real-life resonance. Zo is staying in Samaan Bay on Trinidad’s northeast coast with her mum, baby brother and stepdad, and she’s not happy. Missing her dad and friends, she decides to run away. What could go wrong? Zo’s dad has taught her everything about the forest. At least, that’s what she thinks until it takes a strange and sinister turn, and Zo must summon all her courage to find a way home, save a lost boy and navigate the unsettling truths of an abandoned research facility. The landscapes of the author’s beloved Trinidad are brilliantly evoked — rushing rivers and tangled mangroves, mountainous rainforests teeming with plants and creatures of both the familiar and fantastical variety, among them a talking pirate spider (Cap’n Peg), robotic gnats, and the fearsome Flesh-skinner. The novel also interweaves ecological topics, with Zo mentioning the devastating effects of large-scale logging and mining, and lamenting how companies have “destroyed the rich plant and animal life of the forest”. As Zo faces a thrillingly relentless succession of challenges, she makes a shocking discovery that splendidly sets the scene for the second book in this duology.
Set in 2052, Anne Cassidy’s dystopian eco-thriller The Drowning Day packs tremendous of-the-moment-punch. The writing is lucid, pacey and richly-evocative, making it ideal for reluctant and avid readers alike. Alongside being a gripping story of courage and survival, it’s sure to spark much thought around climate change, attitudes towards “outsiders”, and the exploitation of girls and young women. Jade lives with her beloved dying granddaddy in the Wetlands, a place that’s doomed to destruction. Granddaddy can remember the past-world before the floods came, a time when people had cars and were free to travel. Though life has changed for everyone in this era of extreme flooding, some still have more than others, and this divided society is brilliantly evoked, with a sharp distinction drawn between the have-lots of High-Town and the have-nots of everywhere else. On his deathbed, Granddaddy gives Jade a key and instructs her to find a man named Charlie Diamond to exchange it for a means to get into High-Town, where her sister Mona now lives. “It’s a bad place, Jade. If I don’t make it, you have to get her out”, he warns. When feared “ferals” steal the key, Jade’s friend Bates admits he knows one of its members, Samson. While the ferals are forbidden to live on land and it’s against the law to talk to them, Jade and Bates enlist Samson’s help as sirens warn of another imminent deluge. With the importance of family, friendship and community shining through a thrilling, thought-provoking race against time to save loved ones, The Drowning Day is a dazzler of dystopian fiction.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2022 | Inventive story teller Nizrana Farook weaves a terrific adventure which cleverly weaves real and imaginary scenes around the saving of a magnificent leopard from the hands of the cruel hunters who are after it. Spirited Selvi has a natural affinity with the beautiful and rich natural world of the mountains of Serendib where she lives. As she spends her life outdoors exploring she comes across Lokka, a beautiful and proud wild leopard with whom she forges a strong bond. While it might seem that Selvi is at risk from Lokka, it is really Lokka who is in danger. There are many people who want to make money from the magnificent creature who will fetch a very big price if he is killed. How Selvi outwits the game hunters, escapes from her wicked uncle and teaches her school friends about the value of conservation is a fast-paced roller coaster that will holder readers spellbound.
April 2022 Book of the Month | Rio is sent to stay with his grandmother in California whilst his Mum is hospitalised back home in the UK. Unfortunately, Rio only met his grandmother 5 years ago so knows little about her or about the area she lives in the US. Grandmother Fran lives by the Pacific Ocean – so life becomes punctuated by the sound of the sea and waves breaking on the shore. Rio feels totally alone, away from friends and his usual surroundings. That is, until he meets Marina by chance on the harbour. Marina and her dad, Birch, live on a boat and run whale spotting trips for tourists. It is this and the finding of his Mum’s ‘treasure’ box that contains drawings of whales, and especially one who somehow seems to draw Rio in – an individual named White Beak – that helps give Rio a focus and a way back from feeling adrift. The story is totally engrossing – once I started reading I had to read it in one go! Gold writes about animal adventures in a completely natural way, combining lots of information with a strong story line and characters which evoke our empathy. It’s a story you can literally dive into, enjoying the vicarious thrills of spotting – and along the way – saving grey whales. As I read a proof copy I had no chance to see the illustrations from award winning illustrator Levi Pinfold – but, if the author/illustrator pairing is even half as good as Gold’s previous novel The Last Bear, then we are in for an absolute treat! A read that appeals to anyone interested in ecological themes.
When lies are everywhere, how far will you go for the truth? A tense eco-drama with an explosive twist from the million-copy selling author of Girl, Missing. Fourteen-year-old Maya cannot believe she has to spend the summer with her grandmother, helping out at the family cosmetics firm. But things get much more exciting when she meets a community of activists who are campaigning against the dumping of chemical waste. Getting closer to one boy in particular, Bear, Maya is dared into joining one of their protest missions, but doesn't know that her grandmother's business is the target. Someone has been lying about their environmentally-friendly products, and as danger threatens, Maya must uncover the truth or betray her family forever. In this edge-of-your-seat drama exploring the line between truth and lies, join millions of readers in discovering bestselling teen thrillers from Sophie McKenzie.
April 2022 Book of the Month | Third high-octane instalment in the bestselling author's compelling Jack Courtney Adventures, following Cloudburst and Thunderbolt. On the pretext of making a film for his mother's environmental protection work, Jack wangles an expedition to the Arctic with his friends Amelia and Xander and cousin Caleb. But Xander's investigations into the mysterious backers funding their adventure raises Jack's suspicions. Is the renewable energy investment company really as environmentally responsible as it claims to be? While sledding with dogs, ice fishing, driving snowmobiles and sleeping in a self-made igloo, accidents beset them. Then disaster strikes when Caleb takes on a pack of wolves. Can Jack really trust his mother's friend Jonny Armfield to come to their help, or is he part of the problem?
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2022 | Award-winning Kiran Millwood Hargrave tells a story of great power and significance with incredible sensitivity and writerly skill. By drawing on both, Julia and the Shark is magical, imaginative and mysterious while also dealing with complex emotions and situations. Julia and her parents take off from their home in Cornwall to live in a lighthouse on Shetland. Her father is working on fixing the lighthouse light while her mother is determined to explore the wide and very cold seas to find an elusive Greenland shark. While Julia’s father is practical, methodical and minds about numbers, Julia’s mother minds about words and about the scientific research she is so passionate about. While Julia begins to make friends with the few other children around, her mother becomes more and more absorbed in the search for the shark. Nothing will stop her - not the danger and not the cost. Julia wants to help her mother to fulfil her dream but she also knows that there is something irrational, uncontrolled and deadly dangerous about what she is planning to do. How Julia tries to keep hold of her mother is an emotional rollercoaster. Kiran Millwood Hargrave explores the confusing effect of a parent’s deteriorating mental health in a story that is lyrical and empowering as well as profound.
The first story in an illustrated magical adventure series from the bestselling author of the Unicorn Academy, brimming with drama and an environmental theme. The Keepers are a secretive tribe of little people who live in the middle of Whispering Woods, coming out at night to care for the countryside and rewild it when humans (or Ruffins as they know them) are careless with it. Young Keepers Cora and Jax have just finished school and are embarking on a trial, with several friends, to become fully-fledged Keepers. But their first venture out on their own ends in disaster when they become distracted with playing in the Ruffin children's playground instead of concentrating on the task they've been given. Can they ever be trusted to be Keepers in their own right? A brilliant new magical series perfect for 6-8 year olds combining animal rescue, nature conservation and adventure.
Shortlisted for the Books for Younger Children category, Children's Book Awards 2022 | | Spurred into action when her seagull friend gets poorly from eating plastic, young Stella is soon on a campaign for change. A beach clean up and plastic straw ban sparks her whole community into action and soon Stella is making a big impact. And it's not long before the little seagull and all its animal friends can live in a better environment.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Gill Lewis’ stories connect young readers with the countryside and wild animals as the very best nature writing does, inspiring them to discover more of the outdoors and to stand up for the environment. In Song of the River, Cari is reluctantly beginning a new life with her mother following the tragic death of her father. They have moved away from the city to a cottage next to a river where her mum opens a café. When a flood destroys their home, the resilience of the tiny water voles on the riverbank inspires Cari to see things differently, and a proposal to reintroduce beavers to the area convinces her that the future can be different. The more she finds out about the scheme, the more involved she becomes, finding new strength as well as a place in the community. The story weaves together personal loss and recovery into a story with a message for us all. Simply told, the impact will be long-lasting.
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