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The books in this section all have a theme of conservation, raising environmental awareness and/or championing green issues.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Zaynab arrives in Devon from her home in Somaliland after the death of her mother, a passionate activist trying to improve lives in drought-stricken Somaliland. Unhappy, and lonely in her new environment, Zaynab begins her own campaign against the climate crisis drawing on her first-hand view of its devastating effect on her home country. She quickly finds fellow supporters among her classmates, including particularly Lucas who is equally passionate for different reasons. Challenging their school’s prohibition on campaigning is the first big step and taking part in the national protest is the second. In doing both Zaynab shows her peers that children like them need to be heard. And that they can make a difference. But the stakes are high and, when Zaynab uncovers a big company with a sinister and destructive programme, she has to decide just how hard she will fight. Zaynab’s passionate commitment is infectious – readers will be inspired.
Sally Gardner’s stories of the Tindims, little people who, like nautical Borrowers, collect up the rubbish floating in the sea and reuse it, are as full of adventure as they are of charm, mixing a refreshing innocence with a real sense of urgency about the need for humans to change our ways. In this story Tiddledim the explorer is sailing into Turtle Bay, Granny Gull is baking cakes and just about everyone else is searching for the Bottlerama, the special instruments Tindims use to welcome visitors to Rubbish Island. Made from ten green bottles, it makes a sound as if the clouds are singing. But the Bottlerama needs fixing, and the Tindims can’t find enough glass bottles, though they’ve got lots (and lots) of plastic ones. Things work out happily, and the story ends with the Tindims singing along to their new Bottlerama, while a whale has been helped in the process too. The story will appeal to all eco-conscious young readers as well as those who dream of independent adventures. The font is dyslexia friendly and with illustrations by Lydia Corry throughout (as well as a simply gorgeous colour map on the inside cover) these stories are accessible to all readers. Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader.
The first thing that strikes you about this book is the fascinating, colourful effects on every page. This book is presented as a personal journal – one that is packed with artwork, collage and beautiful, striking full colour and line illustrations. The mix makes this a book that students will want to pick up and browse even before they get involved in the story. Asphyxia is a deaf artist, writer and public speaker and is a well-known Australian activist for deaf people, as well as writing previous junior fiction titles. Set in the near future in a Melbourne on the edge of disaster we live with Piper, a 16-year-old deaf student, who’s Mum wants her to appear normal - so Piper struggles to cope with hearing aids at school and uses ‘normal’ speech, so she fits in. She meets the son of a deaf mother, Matthew, who is a CODA – Child of a Deaf Adult – and realises that a whole world of communication is available to her in sign language. With this revelation comes a new world opening up that takes Piper into groups and friendships she has not seen before – away from the usual world of reconstituted food with created flavours into a whole way of life growing wild food and learning how to cook it. This theme of the sustainability of our world is such a hot topic – and the detail, illustration and information here is fascinating. I would recommend reading it for that alone, but what I found the most fascinating was being almost inside Piper’s thoughts as she discovered and learned Auslan (Australian Sign language). Having attended several Deaf Awareness training sessions in my working life I just wish someone had given me this book instead – it seems to place you inside a deaf person’s mind, so you can really grasp the difficulties and joys of being deaf, and the hearing world’s reaction to that. This book should be in every secondary school – it gives such a vivid picture of life for a deaf person, whilst the presentation is so beautiful it draws the reader in. Do read it! Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | Hike is a book in which dreams become memories through adventure. It’s a wordless, wonderfully illustrated story of a boy and his father stepping out into wilderness for the day. My own memories of favourite walks with my father are very often just fleeting moments, lasting impressions and scenes which have somehow stayed with me and have no doubt gained colour over the years. Hike is a story about love. Love for the world, love for nature and love for family. Pete Oswald has portrayed adventure in a way that will inspire children and evoke happy memories for their parents. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
A breathtaking tale of the rich, wild world and all its wonder from acclaimed nature writer and Costa Award-shortlisted novelist, Melissa Harrison - the perfect read for children for spring and summer! Three tiny, ancient beings - Moss, Burnet and Cumulus, once revered as Guardians of the Wild World - wake from winter hibernation in their beloved ash tree home. When it is destroyed, they set off on an adventure to find more of their kind, a journey which takes them first into the deep countryside and then the heart of a city. Helped along the way by birds and animals, the trio search for a way to survive and thrive in a precious yet disappearing world ... The breathtaking children's debut from acclaimed nature writer and literary fiction novelist, Melissa Harrison,. Inspired by 1942 classic The Little Grey Men by BB, with shades of The Borrowers. A tale of disappearing wilderness that couldn't be more relevant in today's environmental crisis, brought to life for children by three tiny, funny, eternal beings - the hidden folk.
The Branford Boase prizewinning author has produced another winner with his second book. This is the thrilling story of Queenie de la Cruz, an ordinary girl who happens to be a big fan of world’s most popular fizzy drink. When a bottle washes up at her feet on the beach near her run-down house, this is not unusual- the beach is so covered with rubbish she hardly notices it. But this bottle contains the top-secret recipe for her favourite drink. Priceless information that the big corporation wants back at any cost! The way they manipulate the media and instigate a world wide search for Queenie is genuinely scary and thought provoking. While on the run Queenie comes to realise a lot about the world and the threats it faces from big business and consumerism. She also realises the value of friendship, finds her courage to stand up for what is right and that some things are more important than money. The suspense filled plot will keep readers guessing and the powerful underlying environmental message will strike home. A story which, like his debut novel Kick, looks at the darker side of consumerism and big business and its worldwide affects, but this is so successfully wrapped up in a really great story that this will be a really popular read as well as a valuable discussion starter.
A man with an obsession for straight lines and sharp angles is converted by a sudden encounter with nature and learns to live a happier, more relaxed life as a result in Thibaut Rassat’s quirky, thought-provoking book. Architect Eugene likes order and tries his hardest to impose it in his own home and on the buildings he designs where everything has to be straight, square and in line. The builders have fun teasing him by leaving bathtubs on the balconies, but they’re caught out themselves when Eugene suddenly changes his view of the world. What provokes it? When a tree falls into his latest building, Eugene is struck by its beauty and the beauty of its curves and proportions. From then on, straight lines are out and nature and making things nicer for wildlife well and truly in. It’s a book to give children real insight into what an architect does, and how, but it will also open their eyes to the beauty and unexpected order of the natural world.
Rows of adorable little veggies tuck themselves up for the night in their flower beds in this charming and whimsical picture book. The potatoes are closing their eyes, the tired-out tomatoes humming lullabies, and the little aubergines are already dreaming, after all, nothing’s more exhausting than growing day and night. The text is short and its rhythm and rhymes make it just right for bedtime reading while the pictures of the vegetables, cosy and smiling in their beds, will set the liveliest toddler in the mood for sleep. A worm tunnels through each page and at the book’s end he too is stretched out for the night fast asleep, his one shoe lined up tidily at the foot of the bed. Gorgeous!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Best-selling author/ illustrator David McKee created Mr Benn his iconic character over 50 years ago and he has been a star of books and TV programmes ever since. Mr Benn’s Big Game is a classic David McKee story which quietly but firmly promotes good – this time not shooting wild animals. When Mr Benn goes to his favourite dressing up shop he tries on a khaki uniform and is transported to the jungle where he is in charge of a group of very keen big game hunters. Can Mr Benn stop them shooting the wonderful animals in the jungle? Making use of a very cunning plan – and in the best tradition of children’s stories – he does just that! Fans of Elmer will love this earlier introduction to some familiar loveable elephants.
Set in a dystopian future world where the Earth has been overwhelmed with its own trash- an all too feasible scenario- and where the rubbish stored in space now completely encircles the planet. Very different life-styles have evolved, from the privileged few inhabiting the mountain top City of Glass and the earth dwellers scraping a living amongst the rusting junk below in Boxville- the City Of Rust. Above them all, the feared Junker clans make their fortunes mining the rubbish in space. There is a definite Star Wars feel to this setting enhanced by the drone racing that our heroine Railey and Atti her robotic gecko pilot excel in. Atti and their drone have been built by Ralley’s half Junker, master engineer, Gran. But when they are pursued by an apparent bounty hunter, Gran is lost, and they are rescued by two Junker kids. They discover a destiny for Atti and their drone that Gran had never revealed to them. Their task is to save the planet from extinction by a junk bomb and its powercrazed creator. The pace never lets up in this action-packed adventure. The wisecracking but caring relationship between Atti and Railey really engages the reader. The colourful and exotic cast of other characters and the vividly imagined world building will give this real appeal to gaming fans. A memorable debut.
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.
A Jack Courtney Adventure : with Chris Wakling | This second Jack Courtney Adventure by Wilbur Smith and Chris Wakling is every bit as edge-of-your-seat-entertaining and environmentally aware as its predecessor, Cloudburst - think Alex Rider with conservation conscience. After enduring a terrifying time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jack and his mum, plus friends Amelia and Xander, are on the island of Zanzibar for a much-needed holiday, where Jack is treasure-hunting for lost wedding rings (Zanzibar is a popular honeymoon destination) in the idyllic sea. He plans to use his share of any spoils to help his mum, because “raising awareness of the plight of the coral reefs costs money.” Then, on one of their treasure-hunting trips, and not long after Jack is dealt a bombshell about his father, they venture further afield in the Thunderbolt boat and are captured by gun-wielding Somali pirates. Mo, a boy with the pirates, advises them to “stay calm”, which is easier said than done when you wind up in a training camp for child soldiers under the command of General Sir who, as Mo explains, “steals children for others to use. While they’re here he gives them a little training with guns and explosives so they’re more valuable, and then he sells them on to the militia, or the army, whoever will pay.” With its unrelenting sense of danger underpinned by serious environmental and social issues - the destruction of coral reefs; child labour in their Zanzibar hotel; Somali child soldiers forced to fight for Al‑Shabaab - Thunderbolt is an adventure with ethics. What’s more, the short chapters and sharply focussed action scenes make this hugely accessible to reluctant readers. Part of a series but works perfectly as a standalone adventure story. ****Read a Q&A with Wilbur Smith on his inspiration behind Cloudburst and the different challenges of writing fiction for children.
March 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | A heart-warming and magical story of a very special relationship between a child and a polar bear which will inspire readers of all ages to realise that they, like April, can make a difference in the battle against climate change. When animal loving April arrives on Bear Island in the Arctic Circle where she will live for the next six months while her father runs the scientific operations she is told that, despite the island’s name, there are no bears on it. The melting ice caps mean that the polar bears can no longer arrive from the nearest mainland near Svalbard. But April soon finds out that there is one bear left. And April needs to do everything she can to keep him alive. Confident of her ability to communicate with the bear and to feed him, April nourishes the bear and even plans his return to safety. Beautifully illustrated by Levi Pinfold, The Last Bear invites readers to care about the science behind the fate of an endangered species and to believe in one girl’s magical solution to the problem. **The images and illustrations in this extract are subject to copyright © Levi Pinfold and may not be used without permission.
Maya enjoys going to the beach and is especially fond of swimming with her friend Finn, the parrot fish. Thanks to her magical webbed feet, she is able to rescue three of her marine friends who have become unwell through environmental issues. Turtle has ingested plastic bags, the water has become too hot for Coral and Dolphin has become trapped in a fishing net. This delightful little picture book is part of a series that the author Lucy Munday is creating in order to highlight the effects of environmental damage to our planet. Illustrated attractively in bold and bright colours, the message is clear but is not communicated in a way that would be distressing to young children. Each time Maya encounters a problem, the question DO YOU KNOW? follows, enabling discussion. At the end of the story there is further information about the three threats to the environment visited in the book, together with a useful website. This book would be a very useful addition to an infant school library, providing a helpful introduction to this subject matter in a gentle way. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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. The LoveReading LitFest invited Konnie Huq to the festival to talk about Cookie, and green reads for kids with fellow author Gill Lewis. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see them in conversation with Paul Blezard, you won't be disappointed. Check out a preview of the event here
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | The sequel to The Starlight Watchmaker, which was much admired, The Deep-Sea Duke is a glorious and original story that, like much of the best fantasy, deals with real-life issues, such as climate change, identity and love. Android Hugo and baby planet Ada are spending the college holidays with their best friend Dorian on his home planet, Hydrox. Dorian is a prince and Hugo feels out of place and self-conscious from the minute the three of them step out of their spaceship. He’s upset too when Dorian tells that when their studies finish, he’s going to return to Hydrox permanently; will Hugo ever see his friend again? Things seldom turn out as we expect though, and an encounter with an influx of cute but snappy sea otters reveals Hugo as he really is, even to himself. Clever and strange and full of truths and insight, all delivered in a dyslexia-friendly 100 pages, this is another satisfying and eye-opening story from a writer who can always surprise. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+
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