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June 2018 Book of the Month | Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought provoking novel. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
By the always-current Sophy Henn this new series for children just starting to read on their own is to be celebrated. Jeanie, aged 7 ¾, has a special relationship with her grandma, known to the family as Bad Nana. She doesn’t mind her name, in fact, Jeanie says, ‘I think she quite likes it’. Bad Nana isn’t really bad, and if she’s often up-to-no-good, completely embarrassing or a little bit cheeky, she’s always good fun. There’s certainly lots of fun to be had in the different stories Jeanie shares with us. Children are fascinated by the way old people have a license to misbehave, and they will be delighted by Bad Nana’s exploits which break all the rules of good behaviour. The illustrations, also by Sophy Henn, are stylish and distinctive, but children will immediately recognise themselves in Jeanie. This lovely, hugely appealing book is one to recommend to fans of Lauren Child and her Clarice Bean stories in particular.
A sublimely fresh and moving exploration of how it feels to be teetering on that giddy precipice between childhood and adulthood. Marcie is on the verge of everything changing. About to leave school and head to university, she feels lost, left in limbo. She’s struggling with family, she has yet to discover her own dreams and she simply doesn’t know what she wants. Cue the re-entry of her childhood imaginary best friend, Thor, a boy with bear arms whom Marcie cast from her life some years ago. Through their alternating narratives, we learn that both Marcie and Thor are heading towards a time of epic transformation, and together they navigate these terrifying tides of change. Spiced with pithy life lessons - ”A rollercoaster’s only fun because you know you’re getting off at some point” - this really is an unusually ingenious novel. The wildly off-the-wall set-up casts a soulful spell that becomes more potent when readers take time to take-in every single word. A rare gem.
In a Nutshell: Fractured families | First love | Fresh starts | 16-year-old Holly feels like an outsider, except when she’s swimming at her local pool: “Under the surface, deep in the blue-lit water, nobody can see me. There’s nobody to judge the clothes I wear, or the way my hair frizzles”. It’s at the pool she meets Ed, who’s “not like the boys at school who are either geeky or cocky and smart-arsed and think they’re all that. He’s different”. While romantic feelings, evoked in all their dizzying wonder, swell poolside, at home the seas are stormier. Struggling with depression, Holly’s mum has “become so inward-looking that she hasn’t a clue what I do with my time”. But as Holly’s home-life begins to brighten, Ed reveals that he’s grappling with a serious domestic situation of his own. Warm-hearted, highly readable and romantic, with the bleaker elements of both teenagers’ lives handled with a sensitive lightness of touch, readers will undoubtedly root for Holly and Ed to find their happy ever after. ~ Joanne Owen
Al’s Awesome Science is perfect for children who are becoming confident readers and want to progress to chapter books. A fun and hilarious page turning plot, accompanied by lots of black and white pictures to pore over and enjoy. Each title includes, fun and at times messy, step-by-step science experiments, integrated in comic book form to accompany the text.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Award-winning illustrator Michael Foreman’s own love of football suffuses this story which perfectly captures the thrill all footballers have of scoring the winning goal. As the new boy in a small local team a young boy dreams that one day he will be out on the pitch and will the strike the winning goal at the World Goal. Full of action and detail, Michael Foreman’s illustrations capture how his youthful dreams and reality merge to create a classic football story. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
Brings the past brilliantly to life and introduces inspirational women to today's girls. Historically strong, this is a dramatic story with a real sense of atmosphere which in turn sheds an impressively wide light on the social and economic picture of its time. Girls for the Vote was originally published as Polly's March.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category | May 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | This sparkling debut weaves the captivating folklore of Baba Yaga with the thrills of a classic venturing-out-into-the-world quest, replete with primal conflicts, tantalising twists and an unforgettable protagonist that readers will truly root for. Twelve-year-old Marinka yearns to live in a “normal house” and to have a “normal family”, but instead her house has chicken legs, and her grandmother is a Yaga, a Guardian of The Gate between this world and the next. Worse still, in Marinka’s eyes, is that it’s her destiny to become a Yaga herself, to take on the duty of giving the dead “one last wonderful evening” before they “return to the stars”. Baba Yaga has long warned Marinka of the dangers of venturing too far in the world of the living, but her desire “to have friendships that last more than one night” is so strong that she’s prepared to risk everything. Teetering on the cusp of childhood and adulthood, Marinka’s frustrations and determination to find her own way in the world will truly strike a chord with the intended readership. This age-old conflict is delivered with heart and skillfully interwoven with the glorious trimmings of the original folklore. Add to this the twists, the unveiling of truths and the critical choices Marinka must make and you have a heartily satisfying novel that’s ideal for fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Older readers might also enjoy Circus of the Unseen, which offers an alternate re-working of Baba Yaga’s infinitely enthralling Slavic folklore. Radiant with wonder and wisdom, this is an exceptional debut.
***Recommended for 16+ due to content. Book of the Month for May 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 |In a Nutshell: love, truth and the power of release | A gripping, soulful novel about a life-changing day, which will surely change the lives of those who read it. "Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?" remarks 17 year-old Adam as a single day unfurls wave after wave of shattering disruption: first a revelation from his brother, next an ultimatum from his foul boss, then a destabilising announcement from his beloved best friend. And alongside Adam's unraveling, there’s the mesmerising narrative of the ghost of a murdered girl who’s risen from a lake in search of release. Partly modeled on two of the author’s most admired books (Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever), with this remarkable novel Ness once again demonstrates his profound understanding of the complexities of being a young adult, and of the human condition more generally. Adam’s story is pinpricked with truly nerve-touching moments, perhaps most poignantly between him and the overbearing father he fears coming-out to. At one point his dad reveals that he wishes Adam could be honest with him, and then Adam begins to let go. While revealing truths can be excruciatingly painful, doing so might also bring refreshing, life-affirming release. Heartbreaking, intense and acutely honest, this novel casts a subtle spell of hope. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: comic capers deliver sensitive story of grief and recovery Arnold is unlike anyone Leon has ever met before. He’s honest to the point of rudeness, takes everything said completely literally, yet still has a way of identifying what’s really important to people. The two become friends and – unknown to his family – Leon moves Arnold in while his foster parents are away. It doesn’t take long for Arnold to realise that the family, grieving the death of Leon’s twin Lenny, desperately need to start talking again. Amongst madcap adventures, including an inadvertent robbery attempt on a bank, comes real understanding and a sense of healing. Rob Stevens manages to tell a story of heartbreak with humour and sensitivity and readers will be left feeling genuinely uplifted for knowing Leon and Arnold. ~ Andrea Reece
“When your whole family is obsessed with Love and Romance it sets some pretty high expectations, believe me”, explains 16-year-old Tilly, the witty narrator of this bright and breezy book. Tilly’s on tenterhooks as her grandmother’s highly anticipated romance novel is published. Nothing unusual there - aspiring writer Tilly has long been involved with Gran’s work, from filing, typing and researching, to suggesting improvements. But this book is different. It almost wasn’t completed, due to Gran being hospitalised while writing it, which meant Tilly took on the tasks of copy-editing, proof-reading and (wait for it...) secretly rewriting the ending to Gran’s successful series. From her myriad “Meet cute” date moments, to her ritual of choosing a hat before writing a new book, Gran’s quirks are a joy, and the portrayal of her illness is incredibly touching. Tilly’s massively relieved when Gran is delighted with her ending, so much so that she asks Tilly to write her next novel. Tilly accepts the challenge, but how can she follow the “write what you know” rule when she’s never been in love? What’s more, after boldly resolving to fall in love for real, she discovers that real-life romance can’t be plotted. Rather, it brings twists and turns that are way beyond the author’s control. Delightful on the everyday dramas of family life, first love and fiction’s edifying allures, this is perfect for aspiring writers and fans of funny contemporary YA.