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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.
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
In a nutshell: unmissable, the teenage trials and tribulations of a middle child | In Mia Campbell-Richardson, Lisa Williamson has created one of the stroppiest, most self-absorbed heroines ever to grace the pages of a novel. The middle of three daughters, Mia has convinced herself that she is unloved and overlooked by her parents in favour of her awe-inspiringly successful sisters. Indeed, when Grace, Cambridge-bound big sister returns home from her gap year pregnant – to the shock of all – Mia responds by laughing; it’s hardly surprising the atmosphere at home is tense. No matter how badly she behaves however, readers will remain on Mia’s side, such is the skill and sensitivity of Williamson’s portrait of a girl who for all her outward confidence is as nervous and insecure on the inside as the rest of us. As the story unfolds Mia has to acknowledge her anxieties, and that helps her renew relationships with her family. Sharply observed, painfully honest in its depictions of young teens, this is another impressive novel from one of the most exciting young authors around. Recommended for readers who enjoy the trials and tribulations of Mia are Trouble by Non Pratt and The Baby by Lisa Drakeford. ~ Andrea Reece A message from the author, Lisa Williamson: “I like writing about people who are different from me and Mia most definitely fits the bill. She's everything I wasn't as a teenager – loud, confident, brash and daring. I'd have probably been terrified of her, at the same time as secretly wanting to be in her squad. I think that's perhaps why I wanted to get inside her head so much. I wanted to break down the mystique of the coolest girl in the year and actually get to know the person behind the big hair and fiery attitude. As I kind of suspected, there was a lot more than meets the eye. ‘All About Mia’ is a story about sisters, discovering and accepting your strengths and weaknesses and learning to forgive the people you love. It's chaotic and funny and moody and unexpected – just like its heroine – and I can't wait for you to enter Mia's world. I've absolutely loved getting to know Mia, the good, the bad and everything between. As I prepare to unleash her on the world, I really hope you do too!”
February 2018 Debut of the Month In a Nutshell: Brave British Muslim keeps her head after losing her heart An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter. Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is. Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: two lonely children, an enchanted house and a magical world The real world and the magical are cleverly mixed in this exciting story. Angel and Bavar are both orphans, both lonely. She is fascinated by him, the towering boy with a knack for making himself invisible in class. Following him home, she is amazed to see that he lives in a huge mansion, but what she finds inside is even more extraordinary: Bavar’s home and family are magic and the spirits of his ancestors still inhabit their portraits, shouting their opinions from the walls. What’s more, Bavar is responsible for keeping monsters out of this world, monsters who might have had something to do with Angel’s parents’ deaths. As much a story of an unusual and touching friendship as it is a tale of monsters and magic this is thoroughly original and full of charm. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2018 Debut of the Month A huge story is packed into this striking and thoroughly involving picture book. Erik is one of the youngest members of his wolf pack and definitely the most reckless. He thinks his family’s rules are silly and one day, when no-one’s looking, stomps off to be a real lone wolf. He climbs higher, wobbles further and skies faster – right into disaster. Stuck at the bottom of an icy crevasse, Erik wishes for his wolf pack. Fortunately for him, they arrive to save him but Sara Finan’s painterly illustrations show readers just how dangerous and scary the snow and ice are, as well as how much safer and happier Erik is back with his loving family. ~ Andrea Reece