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Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: how to hope for the best even when you’ve been through the worst | Susin Nielsen puts her protagonists through the most terrible situations, but always manages to keep the tone of her novels light, positive and ultimately uplifting. Teenager Petula’s little sister died in tragic circumstances and the effect on the family has been shattering: her parents are both coping in their own way, but growing further apart, while Petula sees danger and threats in everything. Because of her terrible anxiety she’s been signed up to a youth art therapy group which is where she meets Jacob. Jacob has his own tragedy to deal with, but his arrival changes the dynamics of the group and helps all the different members to move on in one way or another. He and Petula become a couple, but there’s a growing realisation for her and readers that he’s not been completely honest. Readers will be gripped by Petula’s story and the way she tells it; Nielsen gives her a totally authentic teen voice, loaded with cynicism, sarcasm, humour and flashes of hope. Recommended for readers who enjoy Nielsen’s poignant, sensitive novels is I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloane. ~ Andrea Reece *** Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take the quiz & find out! OptimistsQuiz.com
March 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Young carers learn to live for today Tender in both name and tone, this involving debut tackles tough themes with heart-wrenching honesty. Marty’s mum struggles to get out of bed, while for Marty it’s the going to bed that’s the problem, “because that’s when the thinking starts… Give me the mornings anytime. Give me the light”. Marty’s life was on track until his dad died, but he’s now all but dropped out of school and is terrified of what might happen if the social workers knew how ill his mum has become. But it’s the social workers who give him a leaflet about a young carers group, which is where he meets Daisy… Daisy has problems of her own. Her beloved brother Harry has debilitating muscular dystrophy. During one young carers meeting, Daisy is passionate about wanting to see the world, which seems impossible to Marty. His world is poorer and smaller. It’s confined to his estate and revolves around his mum. But, while they come from different worlds, they’re united by that fact that they both feel powerless when it comes to what matters most. Daisy can’t make Harry well, and Marty can’t bring back his dad or fix his mum. Consequently, they find solace - and more - in each other. Honest on the realities of mental illness, grief and how it feels to be a teen carer, this truly touching read shines a bright light of love and hope through Daisy and Marty’s darkest days. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: powerful, beautifully written real life story S E Durrant writes convincingly and movingly about ordinary young people in extraordinary situations, and Running on Empty finds beauty and certainty in an apparently bleak situation. Eleven-year old AJ’s parents both have learning difficulties and he becomes their main carer when his grandfather suddenly dies. It’s a struggle, especially at first when no-one at his new secondary school realises just what AJ has to cope with. His love and tenderness towards his parents is beautifully described, as is the warmth of his extended family and things slowly sort themselves out. Somehow too his grandfather – who loved running as much as AJ does – is never really far away. Without a trace of sentimentality, this ends on a note of hope and happiness that is both believable and uplifting. This is one to recommend to fans of Susin Nielsen and even R J Palacio. ~ Andrea Reece Editor at Nosy Crow says: “I can’t recommend Sue’s beautiful books highly enough. She has a magic touch and tells profound stories with conviction and heart. Genuinely cross-generational in appeal, too.”
Hello. I'm called Ella Brook and I live in a town called Cherrywood. I have blue eyes and dark brown hair. My best friends at school are Tom and Lenka. My worst enemy is Zoe. And then there is my mummy. She looks normal, like any other mummy . . . but she's not. Because she can turn into a fairy. She just has to shut her eyes tight, say 'Marshmallow' . . . and POOF! She's Mummy Fairy. Ella's family have a big secret . . . her mummy is a fairy! She can do amazing spells with her computawand to make delicious cupcakes, create the perfect birthday party and cause chaos at the supermarket. But sometimes the spells go a bit wrong and that's when Ella comes to the rescue! Magic and mayhem in this sweet and funny new series for 5-7 year olds from global bestselling author Sophie Kinsella.
In a Nutshell: True friendship tested 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. ~ Joanne Owen
February 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: an evacuee story as imagined by the one and only Jacqueline Wilson Queen of contemporary fiction, Jacqueline Wilson is now setting her stories in the past, but they’re not one bit less lively, immediate or relevant to young people for that. For her 106th book she’s chosen to write a story of evacuees. Shirley is a bit of a misfit, a daydreamer, which irritates her mum, happiest with imaginary friends. Awkward and shy, she’s one of the last evacuees from her school to be adopted and is finally forced on a wealthy elderly lady and her housekeeper together with two boys similarly rejected. The arrival of the three youngsters shakes up the household, and what follows is vintage Wilson, full of incident and adroitly described relationships, and with an emotional and dramatic urgency that will keep readers turning the pages compulsively until the eventual happy ending. Nick Sharratt’s illustrations are as funny and heart-rending as the text. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our special picks for Mothering Sunday The ahhh-factor is at its highest setting in this sweet but sturdy little board book. On each page a different mummy and child enjoy having simple fun together, whether that’s zooming round the shops, playing in the park or splashing in the bath (mummy penguin and her little one are particularly adorable). These are scenes that will be very familiar to little children, and they’ll recognise too the very special mummy love that’s depicted in every scene. The rhyming text is fun to read aloud, and the pictures are full of things to spot and discuss. Perfect for Mother’s Day! ~ Andrea Reece Our special Mothering Sunday Picks Guess How Much I Love You Gift Set by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram Something for Mummy by Ted Dewan Mother's Day by Shirley Hughes With My Mummy by James Brown That's Not My Chick by Fiona Watt Superhero Mum by Timothy Knapman Me and My Grandma by Alison Ritchie
In a nutshell: Hilarious sleuthing with boy detective and his sidekick polar bear… | A new Timmy Failure book is always a cause for celebration and this is another glorious mix of humour, surrealism, incompetent detection – and chickens. Timmy is on holiday in Florida with his mum and her new husband. With Total the polar bear hiding out in Cuba he needs a new sidekick – step up Emilio Empanada, willing if nervous unpaid intern. Together they cause the kind of chaos and confusion that is Timmy’s natural state, while adopting a chicken along the way, and it’s wonderfully funny. The description of a surprise meeting with his father for Timmy tugs at the heartstrings as well as finding the funny bone. Stephan Pastis’s cartoon illustrations are a joy in themselves and this is clever, original, inspired fun. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: magic, ghosts, a brave and stubborn heroine | Twister is named after the storm that raged the night she was born, and she grows up fierce, stubborn, a true force of nature. She needs to be too: her beloved Pa has disappeared, leaving Twister heart-broken, her mother almost destroyed. Twister’s search for her pa takes her into real danger: she encounters ghosts and the dead, harnesses black magic, while in the real world she becomes the target for a violent and damaged classmate. Set in a beautifully described world of mountains, forests and open meadows (the US?), Twister’s connection to the land is a comfort and strength, no matter how hard the trials she faces. Powerful, and absorbing, this is one of a kind. One to recommend to fans of Frances Hardinge’s equally brave and tested heroines. ~ Andrea Reece
Darkus and his friends continue their unforgettable adventure in this final instalment of the Beetle trilogy. Arch-villainess Lucretia Cutter has a secret Biome hidden in the Amazon rainforest: can Darkus and his friends, human and beetle alike, find it before it's too late? If they can't stop Lucretia, she will release her hoard of giant Frankenstein beetles, and the planet will never be the same again ...
One of our special picks for Mothering Sunday A beautiful gift edition of a classic family story by the Kate Greenaway-winning author, Shirley Hughes. Lovereading Comment to follow. Our special Mothering Sunday Picks Guess How Much I Love You Gift Set by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram Something for Mummy by Ted Dewan Mother's Day by Shirley Hughes With My Mummy by James Brown That's Not My Chick by Fiona Watt Superhero Mum by Timothy Knapman Me and My Grandma by Alison Ritchie
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