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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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Award-winning author Philip Reeve is gifted at creating alternative worlds which feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new and original. The watery landscape of the Autumn Isles does just that providing the backdrop for a gutsy and gusty story of powerful old magic, new-fangled science and the perennial battle for the critical balance of power between land and the sea. It is the setting for a roller coaster of a story with the survival of orphaned Utterly Dark, one of the most charming and feisty young heroines, at its heart. Washed up on the shore of the Autumn Isles, Utterly is rescued and adopted by Andrew Dark, the Watcher of Wildsea, whose job it is to keep the islands safe from the many dangers forces that threaten the land, in particular, the terrifying Gorm, a fearful sea dwelling creature who threatens the life of the Islanders. When her guardian drowns in curious circumstances, Utterly must maintain the watch until a new Watcher arrives. But the new Watcher is sceptical of the old magic until his rash actions reveal the full power of the Gorm with almost fatal results. Can Utterly set the watery world of her home to rights?
September 2021 Book of the Month | Unrivalled in his capacity to conjure soulful truths that transcend time and place, David Almond’s writing never fails to get to the very heart of what it is to be human and, though its setting is modern, Bone Music is a sublimely timeless masterpiece - a raw, pure, measuredly lyrical story of a girl discovering deep bonds to nature and the distant past. Underpinned by a belief that the world can be made a better place, it will appeal to a broad range of 11+-year-olds (and adults), from dedicated bookworms, to more reluctant readers. “Why had her bliddy mother brought her here?” city girl Sylvia complains. There’s no phone signal in the wilds of Northumberland, where her mother was born, where they’re currently staying. On her first night here, Sylvia is disturbed by haunting music: “It was like something she’d dreamed before, like something coming from inside her as well as from outside her, like something she’d heard before.” Then she meets a young musician, Gabriel, who wisely remarks - out of the blue - that “the world’s bloody awful, isn’t it? … It’s bloody awful and it isn’t bloody awful. It’s bloody marvellous”. Through their forest wandering and fashioning of a bone flute from the wing of a dead buzzard, Sylvia sees the world anew and experiences life’s “bloody marvellous” aspects. As Gabriel explains, bone flutes “were used to charm the living. They were used to call the dead”, and they were used in ancient rites of passage. The magic of bone music and nature casts an unceasing spell on Sylvia (“the beauty of the world poured into her”), as does Gabriel. His wisdom has timely, timeless resonance: ‘‘Something’s wrong, isn’t it? Look at the state of the bliddy world. Look at all the anxious, troubled kids. We need more, don’t we?” And that, perhaps, gets to the heart of this remarkable book - it’s a story that stimulates reflection, provokes questions and prompts us to ask what we really need (and don’t need) while celebrating primal connections to the earth and the ancient past. What a joy.
September 2021 Graphic Novel of the Month | A smart, satisfying re-formatting and expansion of Mega Robo Rumble, Mega Robo Bros Double Threat will have comic fans on the edge of their seats while nodding with knowing grins on their faces. Award-winning Neill Cameron has an undeniable abundance of talent for creating rambunctious, reader-centred super hero adventures that grip, engage and entertain reluctant readers as much as committed fans of standard form novels and committed comic book lovers. Take two brothers, Alex and Freddy - superhero robot brothers, no less, who work as secret agents for a government operation that seeks to protect the world from attacks at the hands of alien robots. As Alex experiences something of an identity crisis (“Everyone always just sort of assumed I was a boy, but am I? Can Robots have babies? And if so, how?”), London is besieged by a new threat in the form of a massive drill-bot. Alongside reeling with high-stakes adventure, Double Threat is also fabulously inclusive, with messages of empathy, fabulous female characters, and incisive, witty deconstructions of gender stereotypes. If that’s not enough, it also boasts a whole lot of hilarious one-liners (“I can see your butt”) and relatable homelife scenarios - even superhero Mega Robo Bros have trouble finding their shoes from time to time.
So beautiful, so powerfully moving, the ever-inventive Laura Dockrill has done it again with The Dream House - an incredibly honest, child-centred story about a boy’s struggle with terrible grief (and guilt) after losing his dad. Beautifully presented with Gwen Millward’s soft, evocative, powerful illustrations - including Rex’s sketchbook drawings that provide poignant insights to his pain - this has all the marks of a future classic. Rex doesn’t talk much now his dad’s gone, and he’s gone to stay with his godfather Sparky, his dad’s best friend since childhood - “Mum said it would be good for me here; Sparky would take care of me so I could get some peace and ‘feel better’. To give her space while she dealt with what needed to be dealt with. But it was also because she couldn’t deal with me.” Rex is worried because drawing “doesn’t make me feel good like it used to”. Nothing is the same, and he’s terrified of returning to the Dream House, a magical place created just for him. A magical place that’s filled with his dad. But little by little, with Sparky’s sensitive support (what a guy; his tenderness is sublime), and after talking to the boy next door, Rex is able to return to the Dream House, able to begin his long journey back to the world, to a life without Dad, but a world in which Dad is remembered and cherished, in the soothing knowledge that he doesn’t have to carry the heavy burden of grief alone.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Billy is desperate to make things change at home. Her father disappeared before he was born: he and mum had been ok when they had been alone together but now his mother’s new partner has spoilt everything. Billy is frightened for himself and he is frighted for his mum. To make a point he runs away for a few days hiding in a semi-ruined pill-box in a local graveyard. Cleverly telling the story in two narratives, from Billy’s perspective and his mum’s and interweaving other characters and their experience from whom they can learn, Pam Smy explores a range of complex emotions thrown up by a difficult situation.
Inspired by the true story of a Chinese dancer, Yin Jianling’s The Visible Sounds is a unique, magical, affecting story of a little girl who finds a new world, and a remarkable new talent for dancing, after losing her hearing. At two-years-old, MiLi’s world falls silent due to an illness doctors can’t fix, but it’s not long before she realises that sound can be felt, touched and seen through understanding and interpreting vibrations and movement in the world. This realisation is expressed through a lyrical cornucopia of the senses: “sound is a warm wind gently brushing against cheeks and softening one’s heart…Language is a river, flowing and flooding into MiLi’s body. The river turns into musical notes, like little tadpoles swimming into MiLi’s heart.” Though pitched at young readers, the style has a piercing clarity that speaks just as well to older readers (and adults), and Yu Rong’s illustrations - blending stark, graphic style (the use of colour is exceptional) with detail - is the perfect partner for the text. Moreover, it’s sure to spread a glow of joy through children facing - and living with - disability, while also evoking empathy in those who are not.
Hard-hitting and, ultimately, infused with hope, Shappi Khorsandi’s Kissing Emma tackles big issues (poverty, class divisions, toxic masculinity, victim-blaming, and male coercion of women) with incredible honesty and authenticity. Inventively riffing on the true story of Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress, this tells the gripping story of a young women’s journey to self-determination in a society obsessed with looks and economic status. Emma and her mum have long lived with her father’s abusive, controlling ways: “Sometimes he said to Mum, ‘Put some slap on, you look half-dead,’ so she’d do her face. But if she put on some lipstick and a bit of mascara without him telling her to, he’d scream, ‘You look like a tart!’ till she cried and took it off. No way of predicting it”. When he’s suddenly gone from their lives in extreme circumstances, Emma and Mum are forced to move into her grandmother’s small flat. There’s never enough money, and her mother hopes that attractive Emma will find a nice rich man to rescue them both, while Nan advises her to “Put less on show, love. Men can’t help themselves around a bit of flesh. You can’t dangle a lamb chop in front of a lion and expect it not to bite”. Amidst such poor advice, Emma discovers she has a talent for acting and resolves to up her aspirations, deciding, “I had to kill the girl from the estate. It was time to reinvent myself.” As a result, when Emma meets a couple of apparent nice guys from a modelling agency, she’s quickly coerced into an abusive situation while hoping to find Instagram influencer fame and fortune. Emma’s story is utterly gripping - readers will come to really care for her, and find themselves urging her to make different decisions, to find a different path in life. Being an authentic kind of novel, there’s no simplistic happily ever-after-ending here, but there is a glorious sense of triumph and transformation as Emma feels a surge of enough-is-enough self-pride and vows to live a life free from male coercion; a life in which she’s in control and happy, as she deserves to be.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | A spoilt, lonely and unhappy child, Mary Lennox’s life in India is brought to an abrupt end when her parents die. Uprooted from everything she knows she is sent to live with an unknown relative in a cold and mysteriously sad house in Yorkshire. Mary cannot unlock the mystery but, with the help of Martha, the cheerful servant who looks after her, she begins to explore outdoors and in particular to discover a secret garden. The power of nature to unlock Mary’s unhappiness, especially when harnessed to the natural goodness of Martha’s brother Dickon is as delightful here as in the original. Equally moving is Mary’s influence on her invalid cousin Colin who she transforms into a happy and healthy son whom his father can love.
Paul’s life changes in totally unexpected ways when he discovers a little ghost living in the keyhole of his front door. The two quickly become friends and no wonder, Zippel the ghost is irresistible – funny, mischievous and thoroughly well-meaning, if totally baffled by modern life (he’s particularly fascinated by the flush on the toilet). Together they have some excellent adventures, Zippel getting up to all sorts of tricks in an old castle and taking ingenious revenge on a couple of bullies who’ve been tormenting Paul. Full colour illustrations by Axel Scheffler perfectly capture the droll humour of the stories and this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Buy a copy and don’t be surprised if you find readers checking out keyholes in the hope of finding their own Zippel.
From award-winning picture book funny-man Russell Ayto comes this laugh-out-loud tale of friendship and acceptance. Bush Baby is so lonely - nobody wants to be her friend. Giraffe thinks she's too small. She's not pink enough for Flamingo. Lion, however, thinks she is just right to be his friend. And he'd never be so rude as to eat a friend. Is Bush Baby very brave, very foolish, or just very, very lonely?
This comic picture book cleverly demonstrates the dangers of being swayed by popular opinion. New boy Peter is quickly branded the baddest boy in school and it does indeed seem that he’s given to doing naughty things. So when the school’s pet rat goes missing from his cage, everyone assumes Peter is responsible. Only one person knows the truth, and that Peter’s bad behaviour is not what it seems either. The book explores the dynamics of any classroom while also showing us that strange or different doesn’t equal bad and that categorising people on assumptions is never a good idea. Peter is a very charming little character, with his cape, fangs and lacy collar, and the story is beautifully told by its mystery narrator. Original, memorable, and lots of fun.
Little Nook is small, gentle and rarely speaks. She likes to sit quietly with something safe and solid to lean against. Her little classmates accept this, and a small hollow in a tree in the playground becomes known as Nook’s place. When someone else arrives, who doesn’t or won’t understand it, Nook feels her panic rising. But it’s OK because her friends have got her back, and suddenly she no longer needs the reassurance of the hollow. This is a thoughtful and effective depiction of shyness and vulnerability and the kindness shown by Nook’s little friends carries real weight. Garland’s illustrations of Nook and her classmates are beautifully done, capturing every emotion. A lovely story to share and discuss.
A welter of emotions engulf Mira in this touching pre-teen story about secrets and how to keep them and share them. Strongly set in a busy family, Mira’s life is full of the ups and downs of family, friends and school; most particularly there is sadness in knowing that her beloved grandmother is dying and happiness as her interest in a mysterious boy in her class blossoms. Mira tells her story with appealing directness.
Families come in all shapes and sizes and this cheerful picturebook celebrates that beautifully. Lily-May is sad when she learns Dad is going to move away, but Mum and Dad reassure her it’s going to be alright and soon she’s listing the positives of her new situation. She has more time with Mum and then, when Peter moves in, more grandparents to play with not to mention more noise when his young sons come to stay too. There are still some wobbles, but nothing that Mum and Dad can’t sort, and the final pages capture her birthday party, much more fun with her big fantastic family. Though the book is described as ‘a story about parents separating’, the emphasis is strongly on that big new family formed as a result, and it’s so positive and encouraging it’s just the thing to share with young children going through the same as Lily-May or to help explain a friend’s or other young family member’s new situation. The rhyming text is fun to read aloud and Ali Pye’s clear, bright illustrations will prompt lots of conversations.
Tilda’s life is just as she likes it until, suddenly, everything seems to be difficult. Nothing seems as it should be, everything is just upside down. How can Tilda get her life to turn the right side up again? Watching a ladybird struggle to get off its back gives Tilda a clue: if you want something, you just have to work at it! Slowly but surely she starts to put enjoyment back into her life and soon books are fun to read again and her friends welcome her back to play.
Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this gorgeous gift edition bind-up of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea boasts embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. Anne is truly an adorable, endearing, inspiring character, and her life at Green Gables after being taken in by the Cuthberts is evoked with lively detail, atmosphere and emotion. While prone to creating chaos, impossibly romantic, and headstrong (often self-destructively so), Anne has the hugest of hearts and reading this book - the first two novels in the series - is guaranteed to have readers hooked on her exploits as she moves from girlhood to womanhood. If you’ve yet to read these enchanting, amusing, heart-stealing classics, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price.
After a horrible dream, NAME 1(Child) feels that only a cuddle from NAME 2(Adult) will make things better. However, the cuddle isn’t quite enough, even when ALL the family join in. As it bursts out of their door, how far will this cuddle eventually stretch and will it make a difference? And could it become the LONGEST cuddle in the world??! “[Name 1] and [Name 2] and the Longest Cuddle in the World” is a beautiful, rhyming personalised book for 2 for ages 0-99. After a tough year of Covid separations, it's a touching story about how a cuddle can make all the difference to our fears and unite us all over the world. It is Tickled Moon’s 5th personalised book to date and the story has been uniquely written to be personalised throughout for a Child and Adult (or older Sibling). It also includes the names of 5 (or more) Family Members, the Child’s Teacher/Hero and their Hometown. And you can add a personal Dedication too. “The Longest Cuddle” is priced at £19.95 for a Softcover and £24.95 for a Hardcover and is available on Tickled Moon’s website. There you can preview the whole book with your personalisations and listen to the story read by the author, Alison Reddihough.
From the inventive author-illustrator of the award-winning There’s a Bear on My Chair comes this smart sequel, and boy has Ross Collins delivered again. It’s a rollicking, rhyming, visually-pleasing treat in which it turns out that Bear isn’t terribly keen on getting a taste of his own medicine (to begin with, at least). The cause of Bear’s irritation is the presence of Mouse in his house (yes, the very same Mouse on whose chair Bear presumptuously sat in the first book). In Bear’s outraged words, “That rodent can’t live here, oh no! I’ll tell him that he has to go.” Of course, Mouse refuses to leave and proceeds to cause chaos in Bear’s house, before a mob of partying mice turn up. But then - the twist! – when Bear realises “Hey! These mice are nice!” With wonderful interplay between text, illustration and design, this is excellent for reading aloud - the kind of book that will have toddlers urging for it to be read again, and again (and again) while completing the rhymes before adults have chance to read them.
Perfectly child-centred, Storm in a Jar tells the moving, honest story of loveable Arlo’s distress in the wake of his much-loved Nana passing away. After visiting her every Sunday, Nana’s no longer there, the jar of sweets she used to top up for him will never be refilled. So, Arlo keeps the jar with him, as a reminder of Nana. In time, his sadness turns to clouds of anger - the “jar felt heaver and filled with a moody sea” as he lashes out, needing to unleash his grief. Talking helps and, with the support of his teacher and family, Arlo navigates his way through the storm, and a beautiful new tradition begins. The storm in a jar metaphor is wonderfully evoked in words and pictures that speak deeply to young children struggling with the most difficult of emotions. As such, it’s a valuable practical tool for adults seeking to help children understand and manage loss and grief, and truly a support for children experiencing them.
Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 | The Klaus Flugge judges said: ‘A visual treat and the text and illustrations work very well together; it’s full of detail but never cluttered; pace is cleverly controlled; just the right balance of fun and fright!’. Flavia Z. Drago introduces us to Gustavo, a gorgeous little ghost who is so shy he’s literally invisible. Her folk-art style with its palette of orange and Rosa Mexicana creates a distinctive playground for Gustavo as he suddenly and unexpectedly makes new friends.
Eleven-year-old Emily doesn't think Badger Cottage will ever be home. But there is something out there that needs her; a bright pair of eyes in the darkness. In the middle of a fierce battle between conservationists, who want to to rewild the lynx in the woods, and the local farmers, Emily tries to shield a baby lynx she calls Lotta, afraid it will be killed by the person who killed its mother. But can Emily work out who the illegal hunter is in time, and who can she trust?
Discover the joy of dancing and the importance of family, whatever your culture, ability or style with Luna! When Luna dances, she feels like the world's volume turns up, like all colours brighten, like sunlight sparkles behind every cloud. But when she takes her dance exam she ducks, dives, spins and... falls. Luna thinks she can't be a real dancer now. Can Luna's family convince her otherwise?
Book Band: Dark Blue (Ideal for ages 9+) | What a lovely and beautifully written book. This is the story of a little boy called Hari who lives with his parents and sister on Bamba Beach in Goa. He is an intelligent boy with a big heart and a mature understanding of the world. From the first few pages the images are full and lively, and you are drawn into life in the village. There is beautiful detail in the setting. The author describes not just fish in the sea and the evening’s insects, but all their names and habits. In amongst all this description are some important topical messages. The family are poor, not just because of economy, but because the tsunami has pushed the fish further out to sea, away from Hari’s father’s reach in his small wooden boat. Only those with motorboats now have a chance of making money. The story tells of Hari’s attempts to make money for his family and in doing so creates his own tidal waves of events. Alongside his money-making schemes is the animosity between the neighbouring families, amusingly referred to as the ‘them over there’ and the ‘next doors’. Hari through his kindness and helpfulness and with his awareness of the people around him, wins over the ‘next doors’ and the outcome is the climax of the story. There are many themes running throughout this book, the misunderstanding of dyslexia, poverty and its various effects and jealousy towards those more successful than others. It is a heart-warming story, with the power of goodness and kindness winning through. The cover page by David Dean is fun and eye-catching, but the more traditional block plate illustrations at the start of each chapter are more traditional and quite beautiful. The reading zone questions and activities are thought provoking and would provide a lot to talk and write about.
All brilliant picturebooks rely upon the interplay between words and pictures and this partnership of author and illustrator has very good form. Indeed, the acclaimed A Place to Call Home has a similar theme about discovering the world beyond, but in Ergo Deacon and Schwarz have produced a sublime and joyful mix of text, art and clever typography, which will stimulate endless discussion and read aloud requests. While not being at all a book about the COVID crisis, I think that this adds additional resonance for children (and adults) who can easily recall the time when they were literally shut inside. It also speaks to the universal self-absorption of young children and babies. Like them, the first discoveries Ergo makes are of herself. Her feet! Her wings! A demonstration of the principle that consciousness defines existence - I think therefore I am, as Descartes told us. But then Ergo discovers the boundaries of her world and enjoys pushing against these and making her world move and then her astonishment is unbound when she feels movement and noise from outside! The recognition that there may be other creatures like her and the sad thought that they might be forever separated is what spurs her determination to break out and achieve the joyful meeting with fellow fledgelings. What a perfect allegory for recognising that we all need other people and that there is a wonderful world out there if you are brave enough to explore. A perfect introduction to philosophy with the most apposite title ever- not only a word that means therefore, but one which sounds perfectly eggy too! An absolute must have for classrooms and homes.
From the team which brought you the critically acclaimed If All the World Were… we have an inspirational story about finding your voice, both literally and metaphorically. The lyrical text and expressive images capture the intense anxiety of the shy protagonist who never speaks in school and also the transformative power of a good teacher. The illustrations show us the colour, vivacity and joy which Miss Flotsam brings to the classroom and the creativity which she inspires. Getting the child engaged in responding to poetry is the first step into unlocking her feelings and revealing what she needs to say. Gradually and cleverly building confidence and ensuring a nurturing atmosphere in the classroom, Miss Flotsam supports the child until she is ready to read her words aloud. The visual representation of creativity is so well done and is a perfect match for the carefully considered words. This lovely story has a powerful message of resilience, courage and determination and will encourage all children to unlock their potential.
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.
The Silent Stars Go By is a riveting read-in-one-sitting experience driven by compelling characters who leap off the page, not least the young woman at its heart, an unmarried secretarial student who’s forced to give up her baby during WWI. The novel is also underpinned by a superb sense of social history, with evocative details of post-war village life nestling within the bigger story, and - as might be expected of the author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do - it’s threaded with feminist themes. It’s 1919, Christmas is on the horizon and two years have passed since nineteen-year-old Margot was forced to give up her baby for her parents to raise as their own. She was only fifteen when she and Harry fell madly in love ahead of him being called up. The magic of their time together is evoked in all its tingling passion, contrasting with Margot’s present-day torments. It hurts when little James calls her mother “Mummy”, and she doesn’t know how she can continue to keep James a secret from Harry, who’s returned to the village after recuperating on the Isle of Wight. The flashbacks to Margot’s time on the maternity ward are particularly poignant and, of course, the reason she has to endure this unbearable situation is due to the fact that she lives in a world in which “the girl is the one whose honour is defiled or whatever rot they spout” whereas “the boy is just being a boy”. Coupled with that wider context, Margot’s vicar father is a man who “forgave drunks and tramps and fallen women and the men who tried to steal the lead from the church roof. But he couldn’t forgive her.” Realising that “things couldn’t go on like this,” Margot decides to confront her fears amidst the rare glamour of a ball on New Year’s Eve.
Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+ | Dotted with knock knock jokes and including an hilarious bit of involuntary roller skating, this little book will have young readers smiling. Anna Liza wants to be a psychiatrist like her mum, after all, she says, a job where you can make sad people happy again must be the best job in the world. Unknown to her mum, she’s set up a practice in the waiting room which is where she meets Edward. Edward’s sad because his daddy is sad, and Anna Liza is determined to help. Her unorthodox approach – it’s where the roller skating comes in – certainly does the trick. Lots of children will know an adult who is unhappy like Edward’s dad, and this amusing story touches lightly on the subject of depression while reminding us all of the things that make life worth living. For more gently, funny treatments of depression for children, see Brilliant by Roddy Doyle and Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare.
Eric and Terry Fan are renowned author illustrators with such gems as The Night Gardener and the Kate Greenaway shortlisted Ocean Meets Sky. For this collaboration they have been joined by brother Devin for the first time. Stunningly beautiful images are what we have come to expect, and this is no exception. The enticing, mysterious cover spotlights a little creature in a bell jar. Beneath the jacket the cover looks like a blackboard covered with code, double helixes and creature sketches. The endpapers are design files to start and shelves of completed products at the end. We know then that this is about creating things. We meet our little creature again and we are shown the contrast between the naturalistic wold and an ordinary shop – Perfect Pets- on an ordinary street, but far below there is an underground world and a laboratory where they make the perfect pets and where they put the Failed Projects like Barnabus. Alerted of impending recycling doom, by his friend Patrick the cockroach, who has been entrancing him with stories of the natural world above, Barnabus and fellow Failed Projects work together on a daring and thrilling escape and find refuge hiding in plain sight in a nearby park. Being a team and supporting each other is crucial to their success. A multi-layered story that will appeal to a wide range of ages and prompt much discussion and debate about ethics and freedom. In a world where young people are constantly bombarded with social media that promotes artificial standards of perfection, this empowering fable has an important message to share.
A tender, funny tale celebrating all forms of love from award-winning and bestselling author-illustrator duo Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis. What is love? a young boy asks. I can't answer that, his grandmother says, and so the boy goes out into the world to find out. But while each person he meets-the fisherman, the actor, and others-has an answer to his question, not one seems quite right. Could love really be a fish, or applause, or the night? Or could it actually be something much closer to home? A CLASSIC LOVE STORY: A wonderful narrative voice and spectacular pictures give this book the feel of a modern classic. A BOOK THAT KIDS AS WELL AS PARENTS WILL ENJOY: This book begins from the child's perspective, and it's funny and unexpected in ways that children can relate to, while being thoughtful in ways that adults will appreciate. A STORY GRANDMOTHERS WILL LOVE: The boy's grandmother is an essential part of this story. Grandmothers everywhere will appreciate what this book says about their wisdom and affection. A BOOK ABOUT FINDING YOURSELF: The boy's journey takes him to many different people, whose descriptions of what love means to them is very much about how they see themselves and their lives. A GREAT READ-ALOUD: The engaging text is full of surprises and the distinctive voice of the narrator invites audiences to respond. STAR TALENT: Mac Barnett is a New York Times bestselling author and Carson Ellis is a Caldecott Honor-winner and illustrator of some of the most interesting and beautiful children's books published today.
Raw, lingering and stirringly lyrical, October, October had me hooked from opening to end. Conjured in language that crackles and smoulders like an autumn bonfire, this is a book of bones and bark, of frost and flame, captivating in the manner of Skellig or Stig of the Dump as it undulates towards a wondrous homecoming of the heart. “We live in the woods and we are wild… Just us. A pocket of people in a pocket of the world that’s small as a marble. We are tiny and we are everything and we are wild.” October has everything she wants living in the woods in the house her father built. Her mother left when October was four and she’s adamant that, “I don’t want her. She’s not wild like we are.” This year October’s euphoria at the onset of autumn is sullied when she discovers a dead owl and a motherless baby owl: “my heart won’t stop bruising my ribs.” So, she rescues the baby, names it Stig and declares it her first ever friend. Calamity strikes when the woman “who calls herself my mother” arrives as a birthday surprise - her beloved dad breaks his spine after falling from a tree and October must stay with this woman – her mother – in London while he recuperates. In the chaotic city, October is a bird with clipped wings. Torn from her wild world, she implodes, becomes a “firework of fury”, until she strikes up a bond with a boy named Yusef and discovers mudlarking, which makes her once more “a wild animal skulking and prowling for food”, “a pirate hunting for treasure.” An unforgettable story, an unforgettable heroine – it’s no exaggeration to hail this a future classic.
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