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The stories and novels in this section cover a range of themes from family issues to mystery adventures. You can find stories about the relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, to sibling rivalry and blended families, suitable for the smallest children up to young adults.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Ten-year-old Billie Upton Green opens up her doodle diary to readers, and what a treat it proves: a fabulously lively and idiosyncratic record of an eventful couple of weeks in her life. When a new girl joins her class, Billie is determined to make her feel welcome, even though Janey seems a bit of a show-off. She’s disconcerted that Janey doesn’t know what it means to be adopted, like Billie, or that you can have two mums, also like Billie. It gets harder to like Janey though when it appears she’s stealing Billie’s best friend, Layla. This also seems, to Billie, to put Janey in the frame for a sudden spate of thefts at their school, but the culprit is someone else altogether and by the end of the book, Billie, Layla and Janey are firm friends, the three of them performing a special dance at Billie’s mums’ wedding. Readers will love Billie’s adventures, and her funny, doodle-filled way of sharing them, as much as they love the Dork Diaries or Wimpy Kid stories, and it’s great too to see such a warm celebration of diverse family life.
April 2021 Book of the Month | Multi-award-winning Brian 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 libraries and every child's bookshelf. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
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. Read more about The Gilded Ones in a Q&A with Namina Forna.
A little girl and her dog find a rainy day is full of adventures and things to do; in fact, the harder it rains the better as the world is transformed into one of streams and waterfalls, puddles, and flowers drinking it in. With their umbrella and colourful raincoats our two heroes splash, dance and explore, the text catching all their excitement in lines that border poetry. Indoors is fun too when thunder and lightening drive them inside, and then they emerge into a glistening world of grassy sweetness under a glorious rainbow. A book that fully celebrates a young child’s joy in the wonders of nature and the natural world.
Matthew Cordell’s new picture book is outstanding, an exploration of grief, loss and recovery, that will touch readers of all ages. A few wordless spreads show all that Charlie the dog meant to Louise, and how sad she is that he’s died. Rowing out to an island in the lake next to their home, Louise encounters a bear, and recognises in it a familiar sadness. After a rocky start, the two become friends and days become better, for both. As time passes, the pain of grief fades and the island changes too, illustrations moving imperceptibly from sepia into colour. When winter arrives, the bear hibernates and Louise is furious again at the unfairness that means things we love must end, before realising that sometimes the end is a beginning. The story could end there with the arrival of a new puppy, but there are a couple of pages of postscript. Louise rows back out to the island with her puppy, but now there’s no sign of the bear – did he ever exist at all? The story is beautifully told with not a word or image out of place, an adventure full of bravery and truth that every child should read.
You can always trust Tony Ross to teach little ones a useful lesson with loads of humour and the perfect level of cheekiness. The grown-ups keep telling the Little Princess to wash her hands – after she’s been playing in the mud, after she’s used her potty, and after she’s sneezed, but why, she asks. The maid explains, gleefully and very vividly, and you can guarantee the Little Princess will never not wash her hands again. She still gets the last word, and the last laugh though! Full of Ross's brilliant touches of characterisation and silliness, this will be a hit with toddlers and parents alike.
Reena and Luke’s lives change forever and in completely unexpected ways when they move from New York City to live in Maine. The surroundings and lifestyle are completely different, but the biggest drivers of change are their encounters with a cow called Zora. Sent by their parents to help Zora’s owner Mrs Falala, one of the most doughty and memorable eccentrics in fiction, they are pushed and pummelled (often literally) into becoming proficient cow handlers. There is so much more to learn too, not least about Mrs Falala. The story is told in a blend of poems and prose that is perfect for the story, conjuring up unforgettable images of the characters and the setting. Sharon Creech won the Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler and Moo is just as original and heart-warming. Congratulations to new independent publisher Guppy Books for bringing it to readers in this country.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead writes books that are rich with ideas and acknowledge her readers’ intelligence and intuition. Eight-year-old Bea is the central character in her latest novel, and, typically, there’s lots going on in her life. She divides her time between her mother’s and father’s homes following their divorce and visits a therapist who helps with her anxieties. The story culminates in her father’s wedding to his new partner, Jesse. As ever, we move back and forth in time, and discover much about Bea’s inner life as well as her daily routine in New York. Relationships with family and friends propel the story and there are some real shocks and surprises for readers, plus a gradual understanding of the things that will never change for Bea. It’s beautifully written, a thoughtful, sensitive account of growing up and growing resilience and trust. Fans of Rebecca Stead will also enjoy Kate DiCamillo’s books and Susin Nielsen’s.
From the agonising loneliness of grief, to the wonders of new friendships and a newfound father-son bond, Cath Howe’s How to be Me will stir readers to joy as it steers through Lucas’s profound sadness. His pitch-perfect narration is sublimely child-centred, with fine details that raise smiles and tug the heart. Tender and thoughtful, what a warm beam of a book this is, with the transformative, restorative power of music (and cats) threaded throughout. “Vanessa’s going to be your new mum, Lukie. You could at least look a bit excited about it.” Lucas’s dad’s words strike him to the core - his mum died three years ago, and Vanessa is nothing like her, while his wealthy banker dad is hardly ever around. Dad is a bluster of confidence, busyness, and quick fixes, which is why he sends Lucas to drama club - Dad thinks this will fix Lucas’s reluctance to speak up in public, but Lucas is horrified: “Why hadn’t Dad asked me? Why did he never ask me?” But that’s the thing about Dad - he always thinks he knows best, though he doesn’t know Lucas at all. Thankfully, the horrors of drama class shrink when Lucas befriends Keely and her beautiful, bighearted family. Keely is a delight - straight-talking, observant, funny, caring. Life also looks up also when his drama teacher realises he’s an incredible pianist. With an enthralling finale that builds in beautiful waves, and an inclusive, readable style, I adored every word of this treasure.
The Smidgens are about the same size as Borrowers (small enough to fit into an old peanut butter jar) and, like Pod, Arrietty and co., build their homes from things the Big Folk (you and me) leave behind or lose. You won’t have seen them, because not only are they very small and very good at hiding, there just aren’t that many around; in fact Gafferty and her family think they’re the last of the Smidgens. It’s only when Gafferty and little brother Gobkin run into the witchy Claudia Slymark and her sinister-ish, ghostly sidekicks, that they discover there are more Smidgens living nearby – and just as well too. Claudia is after something the Smidgens have, and the chase leads to some real high jinks (in some very high places too). Little people are endlessly fascinating – who doesn’t love the idea of being small enough to fit into a doll’s house or toy train – but the Smidgens’ adventures are funny as well as charming and with just the right amount of 21st century edge and sharpness. The first in a series which is certain to capture children’s imagination.
Zoe Antoniades’ stories of twins Cally and Jimmy are fantastically lively and lots of fun. There are four separate self-contained stories in the book, each one narrated by Cally, as she watches, exasperated, while her minutes-younger brother gets into trouble again and again. She knows Jimmy can’t help it really – he has ADHD – and always sticks by him so that things have a habit of working out well in the end. Their Greek family, especially their Yiaiyia (Granny), are another of the joys of the book and one episode describes their trip to Cyprus, where Jimmy outdoes himself causing chaos. The stories are accessible, absolutely believable, and readers will feel by the end that they have a new set of friends. Highly recommended.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | A wise, funny fable about how we don't need to like the same things to find our perfect pal. Duck is not like other ducks. Duck doesn't like water and is perfectly fine alone, thank you very much. But then, one dark and stormy night, an outgoing, water-loving, and very lost Frog turns up at Duck's door. Can this odd couple find Frog's home? And will they find friendship along the way? This endearing, gorgeously illustrated tale marks the author-illustrator debut for Steve Small, illustrator of the highly acclaimed, I'm Sticking with You.
We are more used to seeing migration from the point of view of the struggle for acceptance in a new place, but this gorgeous book refreshingly celebrates the homeland where Anita lives and where she is the brave and bold Princesa, loved by all. The atmospheric illustrations are suffused with the warmth and colour of the Dominican Republic and you get a real sense of customs, community and family (helped by the Spanish terms sprinkled through the text). It becomes apparent that the family is about to embark on a new, more materially comfortable life in another country and the planes that will take them there are the dragons of Anita’s imagination. They are definitely seen as a threat and the colour palette becomes a more ominous grey as the fearful day approaches and she must leave her beloved island kingdom and her Abuela, her grandmother. Her nerve collapses entirely on the tarmac before boarding, but comforted by her family she promises herself that she will return to her island “with mango-sweet kisses; black stormy nights; glassy, blue waves; spicy, hot heat; and sandy, snug hugs”. This is a valuable insight to share in the first world classroom where the perspective is normally one of immigrants coming to “a better place”. This recognises and acknowledges that the reality is very different. Highly recommended.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Poppy Anne Field loves ants and spiders and ladybirds and butterflies and dragonflies. Watching them for hours while deep in the countryside she feels entirely at home in their company. But when she is with people, she is overcome with shyness and does everything she can to blend into the scenery – rather as her beloved insects do to keep themselves safe. How Poppy’s love of nature helps her to overcome her shyness is conveyed gently and in a way that will reassure all those who are equally shy.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Award-winning author and former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine has a rare gift for revealing family relationships accurately and painfully but with laugh out loud humour. She is at her best unpicking the complicated feelings around family break up and exploring the devious means all parties have of keeping secrets and uncovering the truth. When Scarlet’s dynamic mother decides to leave her quieter father Scarlet has to go with her. Luckily, she can still see her dad at weekends and she still has her best friend Alice to share everything with. Gradually Scarlet finds that there are other people to think about too including her mother’s new boyfriend and the possible new partner for her father. She also finds she has a lot to learn about her parents as individuals as well as in relationship to her. Anne Fine is as full of family insight and humour as ever.
Introducing a personalised children’s book especially for twins! | This is a special twin edition of the brilliant Birthday BOO! If you want to give a really special birthday surprise to twins in your life, then this is the book to do it. Produced by Tickled Moon, the story is personalised to allow both children to be a central character in the story. And what a story it is too! Imagine what it would be like if an enormous monster turned up on your birthday to surprise you by shouting, ‘Boo!’ – hmmm, maybe not quite the present you were hoping for. Fortunately, our young heroes are smart as well as kind and find a way to make the monster feel at home. The lively text is great fun to read aloud and will be irresistible to youngsters when they realise they really are the star of the story (in a nice touch, you can even reference their favourite food). With bright, bold colour illustrations by Jodie Wonford this birthday treat really delivers. The Birthday BOO for Twins! is priced at £24.95 for a Hardcover and is available on Tickled Moon’s website.
Little ones will be tickled pink by Tickled Moon’s charming personalised picture books. They make a wonderful present to enjoy in the moment and treasure for years. The quality of the production values and personalisation options outshine other customisable picture books I’ve encountered, and Jodie Wonford’s illustrations are full of energy and life, from the charming monster character of the Boo! books to the atmospheric landscapes of The Joyful Adventures. The books cover a range of occasions and family needs. For example, The Birthday Boo! can be personalised for solo children or twins. There are also two Christmas-themed books - The Christmas Boo! and The Christmas Wrapper, the latter of which can include up to four names in addition to the main personalisation. Alternatively, the beautiful “book for two” option (The Joyful Adventures) makes the perfect present for a pair of siblings, and a whopping eight additional loved ones can get a mention in this enchanting adventure story. No matter which book you choose, for whatever occasion, each option can be printed with a personal dedication, making an already special gift even more special. “The Joyful Adventures” is priced at £19.95 for a Softcover and is available on Tickled Moon’s website.
If you want to give a really special birthday surprise to a small person in your life, then this is the book to do it. Produced by Tickled Moon, the story is personalised to make the child a central character in the story. And what a story it is too! Imagine what it would be like if an enormous monster turned up on your birthday to surprise you by shouting, ‘Boo!’ – hmmm, maybe not quite the present you were hoping for. Fortunately, our young hero is smart as well as kind and finds a way to make the monster feel at home. The lively text is great fun to read aloud and will be irresistible to youngsters when they realise they really are the star of the story (in a nice touch, you can even reference their favourite food). With bright, bold colour illustrations by Jodie Wonford this birthday treat really delivers. The Birthday BOO! is priced at £19.95 for a Softcover and £24.95 for a Hardcover and is available on Tickled Moon’s website.
Mummy Owl does everything she can to make sure Little Owl is all ready for bed. She’s read a bedtime story – and then one more on the promise that Little Owl will settle afterwards. And she’s tucked Little Owl in with all his favourite things. But Little Owl can’t sleep because it is too dark, too noisy and because he is too excited about seeing his Grandma and Grandpa Owl. Mummy Owl uses all her best powers of invention and story telling to make sure Little Owl can go to sleep!
16-year-old Brightonians Caddy and Rosie have been best friends all their lives, their relationship enduring even when Caddy’s aspirational parents send her to a private school. But when an enigmatic new girl arrives at Rosie’s comprehensive, Caddy’s longing for “something of some significance to happen” in her “hopelessly average” life is set in motion, along with a shift in the dynamic of her relationship with Rosie. While Caddy is initially terrified that the beautiful, impulsive Suzanne will replace her, the three of them form a deep friendship. As Suzanne’s self-destructiveness escalates, it emerges that she’s struggling to cope with the ordeal of having suffered physical abuse at the hands of her stepfather, and Caddy finds herself laying everything on the line to save her downward spiraling friend.This powerful, punch-packing debut is an utterly compelling, authentic portrait of the intricate ebbs and flows of friendship, and of a young adult trying to navigate the tempestuous waters of past traumas. Accessible and profoundly moving, Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne’s story is sure to resonate with many a young woman - a phenomenal feat for any writer, let alone a first-time novelist.
This companion to Beautiful Broken Things is a vital, powerful portrayal of the complexities of mental health, friendship and love. Now a legal adult, Suzanne, the self-declared “queen of fresh starts”, leaves her foster parents, acutely aware that “this time, I’m on my own”. She’s moving back to Brighton, the only place she’s ever felt a sense of belonging. “I’m overdue some goodness”, Suzanne muses as she moves into a basic bedsit, with Auntie Sarah and dear friends Rosie and Caddy on hand to help her settle in. But Rosie and Caddy soon head off to their respective universities, leaving Suzanne feeling abandoned. Lonely and struggling to make ends meet on the wages from her café job, she forms a friendship with her 79 year-old neighbour, a storyline that swells with raw, life-affirming beauty. Alongside this, painful mental health setbacks are triggered, and further rollercoaster rides come courtesy of a confusing, overwhelming romance with musician Matt. Honest, authentic, moving and entertaining, this all-consuming story is sensitive and wise on the complexities of growing up, and offers a guiding hand to young adults facing mental health struggles.
Readers will be left in no doubt that they matter after reading this beautiful, cleverly constructed story. The first image is of a little girl gazing down a microscope at ‘the small stuff too small to see.’ From there, the story moves through time, switching scale too from early ocean life – comically serious looking – to dinosaurs. The appearance of a blazing meteorite sends the story away from Earth up into space where an astronaut is thinking about her little boy, who is seen at the window of an apartment block. All are told that no matter what’s going on, whether you’re young or old, the first to go or last, you matter. The text circles round so that the opening lines are repeated at the close, tying the disparate-seeming elements together and wittily reminding us that – like everything else – we’re matter. It’s clever, full of surprises and, like that meteorite, makes a real impact.
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
Imagine what it would feel like to always be asked the same question, to only be seen for your disability? Well Joe is very cross about that- he just wants to play pirates and so he ignores the other children and eventually they become curious and eventually they all join in the imaginative game and great fun is had by all. In a letter to parents and careers at the end of the book the author tells us about losing his own leg and so we have no doubt that this reflects an authentic lived experience. He also gives wonderfully straightforward advice about the conversations parents can have with their own children about disability. This is the very opposite of a “worthy” issues-based book. It is a funny and very enjoyable read that will nevertheless perform an urgently needed task and generate very useful discussion at home and school. An absolute essential purchase for all schools and early years settings. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | From bestselling author Peter Bunzl comes Featherlight – an irresistible tale of family, magic and bravery. An unlikely visitor brings light to the life of the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, in this stunning new adventure. Inspired by the story of real heroines like Grace Darling in the Farne Islands and Ida Lewis of Rhode Island, both of whom risked their lives in daring sea rescues in the nineteenth century, Featherlight boasts a strong female protagonist, a touching story of family, and a fantastic mix of myth and history from the award-winning author of the Cogheart series.
Shortlisted for CILIP Carnegie Medal 2021 | Lauren Wolk’s Echo Mountain shimmers with timeless lyricism and rhythm. The story sings with empathy and a spirit of bravery. Its world is one young readers will be enraptured by and long to return to, making it perfect for fans of classic Eva Ibbotson novels and contemporary books by Katherine Rundell. In the wake of The Great Depression, Ellie’s fine tailor father and music teacher mother lose work, then their house, “and then the life we’d always known” when they’re compelled to leave town for Echo Mountain. While her mother and sister find mountain life especially tough (they “lived in a brew of fear and exhaustion”), Ellie and her father loved the woods, loved the mountain and “what it kindled in me.” Ellie is mystified when her dog returns home with a little wooden lamb attached to its collar, and then more objects appear, including a carving of Ellie herself left in the stump of the tree that almost killed her father. With her family reeling from his accident, Ellie’s determination to find a cure leads her to Cate, a skilled healer who’s disparaged as a witch, and wild Larkin, her young apprentice. Through Cate, Ellie too learns how to heal, and also how to see beyond appearances, and how to persevere. What a wonderfully immersive read.
Lots of young children will have grandparents who are suffering from dementia and The Forgettery offers a warm and comforting way to talk about it and understand it. In the story Amelia and her forgetful Granny go for a walk and discover the magical Forgettery, a place where you can find everything you’ve ever forgotten. Amelia’s room is full of gloves, socks and thank yous, but Granny’s is huge and full of happy memories. After they get home, Amelia makes a memory book for Granny that they can both share. The story demonstrates the importance of memory, explains gently how memories can come and go in the elderly, and offers the promise of new memories to be made. Laura Hughes’ illustrations are full of joy and tenderness and though the subject is a sad one, it is a book full of light and laughter.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Two true stories inspire this warm, positive, uplifting story: the real-life adventure of Pickles, the dog who found the World Cup, and the amazing achievements of Fara Williams, the women’s football superstar who was winning on the pitch even while she was homeless. Like Fara, Elsie is football mad, as is her dog Pickles, who narrates for us. In the story, the world cup trophy is stolen, which means Elsie will miss her chance to play in a half-time match at Wembley. That opportunity has been sustaining her through difficult times as she and her dad (and Pickles), also like Fara Williams, have lost their home and are living in a noisy, dingy hostel. Fortunately, Pickles is as good a detective as his famous namesake… Publisher Barrington Stoke specialise in books for dyslexic or reluctant readers, and there’s lots of page-turning action packed into a short extent. The book is big on emotions too though, making clear just how devastating it is to lose your home, while showing how love, family and hope can get you through just about anything. It also reminds us that football – playing, watching, being a fan – is life-enhancing. A winner! Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+
This playful picture book written in rhyme by Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated in rich Tudor colours by Alea Marley gives readers a glimpse into the surprising and intriguing grooming habits of Tudor times and saves the big reveal for the end: this little girl who is reluctantly pulled out of bed just like them went on to become Queen Elizabeth I.
Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | This is the first time that Sydney Smith has written his own text for a picturebook and he demonstrates as much skill with words as with the art which has won so many accolades and reaches even greater heights of excellence in this stunning book. From the unusual thin skyscraper shape of the book to wordless passages of comic panel-style vignettes and full spreads of gridded streets and buildings, traffic lights and crowds, everything sets the tone of a chaotic city in winter. The moody art, mostly inky line and subdued watercolor with some gouache for thicker textures in the snow is intensely atmospheric. Masterful use of scale and perspective shows how terrifyingly small the gender unspecified, all-wrapped-up-for-winter, little protagonist is. “I know what it’s like to be small in the city” the story starts and only gradually do we realise that it is Small who is speaking and only slowly do we realise who is being addressed as advice is given on finding warmth and shelter and dark alleys and dangerous dogs to avoid. There is a wonderful narrative twist which is best left to a first reading so you can fully appreciate the powerful emotional journey, but I can guarantee an immediate re-reading will be demanded so that you can spot all the clues. A truly exceptional picturebook.
It's been almost a year since Sila's mum travelled halfw ay around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperw ork that w ould allow her to return to her family in the United States. The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to bear. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with a unique boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places. A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humour that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.
Boy lives in a caravan on his own in the woods. His dad, John, is in prison and promises to get out soon. All the boy needs to do is survive alone for a little while longer. But dark forces are circling - like the dangerous man in the Range Rover, who is looking for his stolen money. And then there are the ancient forces that have lain asleep in the woods for an age...
This clever and thoroughly charming picture book is full of information about emperor penguins and human dads too. Sam is waiting for his dad to come home and for their nightly storytelling session – his dad makes up brilliant stories. But Dad is late, arriving only just in time in fact, and Sam is put out; he refuses a dinosaur superhero story, normally his favourite. So his dad tells him a very different story, the true story of Papa Penguin who waits in the freezing cold, guarding his egg, hardly moving for weeks and weeks until at last the egg hatches and he sees his chick. I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate a father’s unconditional, superhero love for his child, no wonder Sam loves it and asks for the same story the next night. Momoko Abe’s illustrations are full of warmth and family love, even in Antarctica and like Sam, children will want this story again and again. A final double page spread includes more facts about how real-life Papa Penguins behave.
A postcard-sized version of Debi Gliori's bestselling book. Once upon a time…best-selling illustrator Debi Gliori tells a witty story about cats poking fun at fame and asking if it really has any merit. All the towns on Mull have cats with special attributes, such as being able to sing or fish or being specially soft. As a result, the tourists flock to see them. But one place had no special cats. In Tobermory the cats are just plain ordinary cats and soon no one wants to visit at all. But one ginger cat decided to change all of that. What special trick could he come up with?
10-year-old Joy’s family have always travelled the world – Mum working as a nurse, Dad as a chef with Claude and Joy – sisters but totally different characters – until now. They have returned to the UK and are all crammed into Grandad’s house where normality reigns supreme! Both girls have to go to school – for the first time ever – and find it difficult to settle and find life as engaging as it used to be. Joy has always looked for silver-linings but at the moment she finds it incredibly hard to find any, until she meets Benny who becomes a firm friend. She and Benny met beneath an ancient tree in the school grounds – but then the local authority plans to tear the tree down. Can Joy find her silver-lining in such an awful plan? She and Benny start a fight for what they believe in – the future of the ancient tree. Written with all Valentine’s usual skill and empathy we are drawn into the world of Joy and her difficult transition to life without the globe-trotting. The characters are clearly drawn, with an authentic family dynamic. The perfect length for readers enjoying a longer read as their next step. This promises to be the first in a series, and I am sure Joy and her family, with their resilience and courage will have many fans.
A laugh-out-loud, record-smashing adventure packed with heart, humour and a whole lot of kumquats, from Jenny Pearson, the breakout talent of 2020, illustrated by Erica Salcedo. Lucy is a fixer of broken things. But there's one thing she can't fix and that's her unhappy mum. Until she comes up with an INCREDIBLE plan. Along with her best friend, Sandesh, Lucy is going to SMASH a world record. Because she's convinced that starry Paul Castellini - Record Smashers TV host and all-time crooner - is the answer to her mum's problems. But breaking a world RECORD when watermelons, kumquats, two baddies and a 30 cm shatter-resistant school ruler are involved isn't quite as easy as Lucy thought. Can she learn that sometimes happiness doesn't come with a plan?
Not since Adrian Mole opened his diary have the thoughts and innermost feelings of an adolescent boy been examined so precisely or with such heart. Stan is twelve, shy and a worrier, so the thought of a holiday in Italy with his friend Felix and Felix’s family freaks him out. He’s going though: we meet him at the airport drawing up a ‘duck-it’ list of things he hopes he’ll never have to do. Little does he know that he’ll tick off six out of ten of them on his holiday, and enjoy it too. The first-person narrative lets us in on all Stan’s thoughts, but he’s a good observer of others so we learn loads about the others in the holiday party too, kids and grown-ups. There are laugh-out-loud scenes and moments of pure agony, and through it all Stan is learning loads about himself and life in general. Honest, revealing, compassionate and so entertaining, this is a must read for all the Stans out there – adults, give yourselves a treat and read it too.
Fresh-voiced and thought-provoking contemporary YA exploring friendship, trust, messing up and trying to do the right thing in the aftermath of a teen girl going on the run with a teacher. Fabulously forthright Eden has always been the kind of student teachers “call ‘spirited’ when they're trying to be nice and 'disruptive' when they're not”. The last thing anyone expected was for her level-headed, flute-playing, star student bestie Bonnie to run off with the school music teacher, but that's exactly what happens, right before they're due to sit their GCSES, and Eden is the only one who knows where Bonnie is. She knows this is wrong, that Bonnie should come home, but she’s promised not to tell, and she can’t betray her friend. Bonnie was the one who made Eden feel at home in a new school when she was placed with a new foster family. Until Bonnie, Eden hadn't had a proper friend. And exploring friendship - how it feels, what it means, the joys, the obligations, the codes of loyalty - is at the heart of this involving novel. No one believes Eden when she says Bonnie hasn't been in touch, but how long can she keep lying? And what price will be paid for her loyalty, when she knows Bonnie is making a massive mistake? Alongside Eden’s struggle, understanding why Bonnie left is also thoughtfully explored - the pressures she put on herself to perform at school, the weight of expectation, the fears and doubts that made her more susceptible to grooming, the desire to feel understood. This novel tackles serious issues head-on, and with tremendous empathy, never shirking from the complexities of both Eden and Bonnie’s predicaments. Eden’s adoptive parents are a delight, as is her relationship with super-sweet boyfriend, Connor. They’re true friends, and the very model of a healthy relationship: loving, supportive and respectful of each other. Sara Bernard has done it again.
Sixteen-year-old Steffi has been selectively mute since she was five. No-one really knows why, least of all her, but teenage readers will recognise the different pressures that she feels so acutely. Her mutism heightens her loneliness, and the loss of her much-loved step-brother in an accident has added terribly to her isolation. We meet her as she’s starting sixth form, set on reaching university, the pressure to speak greater than it’s ever been. Things change when Steffi meets Rhys, who is deaf. Steffi can sign and as their relationship grows we realise that real communication takes many forms. This is very much a story of two individuals but it will resonate with readers, who will understand Steffi’s problems, and be reassured by its message that you don’t have to be noisy to have lots to say, or to be heard. Readers will also enjoy Holly Bourne’s excellent Spinster Club books, or the Zelah Green books by Vanessa Curtis. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
Imagine what it would feel like to always be asked the same question, to only be seen for your disability? Well Joe is very cross about that- he just wants to play pirates and so he ignores the other children and eventually they become curious and eventually they all join in the imaginative game and great fun is had by all. In a letter to parents and careers at the end of the book the author tells us about losing his own leg and so we have no doubt that this reflects an authentic lived experience. He also gives wonderfully straightforward advice about the conversations parents can have with their own children about disability. This is the very opposite of a “worthy” issues-based book. It is a funny and very enjoyable read that will nevertheless perform an urgently needed task and generate very useful discussion at home and school. An absolute essential purchase for all schools and early years. settings. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
The first book in the hilarious new series for children by the bestselling creator of Hurrah For Gin. Lottie Brooks is 11 3/4 and her life is already officially over - not only is she about to start high school without any friends or glamorous swooshy hair, she's just discovered she's too flat-chested to wear A BRA! She might as well give up now and go into hibernation with her hamsters Sir Barnaby Squeakington and Fuzzball the Third. Lottie navigates the many perils of growing up in this fantastically funny new illustrated series for a 9-12 audience, filled with friendship, embarrassing moments and plenty of lols. Hilarious, relatable and full of heart, for fans of funny and chaotic family stories.
Ant Chloe is a little ant with a great attitude to life. She is industrious and always ready for an adventure. Naturally curious, this sometimes gets her in trouble. She wants life to be fair and is hard working. She is part of a happy family of ants together with her 10 brothers and sisters. Chloe and the Gr-ant-father Clock is a delightful new story about teamwork and how, only by using the diverse skills of each of the family members, including all her brothers and sisters, the little ants fix the problem of the broken Gr-ant-father Clock. The video book is voiced by Sally Phillips.
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