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September 2019 Book of the Month | Hitting rock bottom, hanging on, and coming back from the edge. Brian Conaghan has an incredible talent for telling it like it is. His characters are authentic and absorbing; flawed underdogs with serious troubles, like 17-year-old Maggie whose dad “drank his liver into a spreadable pâté”, and whose laid-off dinner lady mum is “gifted in the art of attracting pure dickheads”. And Maggie? Maggie’s “an island: the way I dress; the music I listen to; the patter my brain discharges; everything”. Maggie’s struggling to deal with the tragic loss of her best friend Moya whose death she feels excruciatingly guilty about. Moya was a “mad riot” of a girl, but as Maggie “couldn’t be arsed with all the love-struck vom” Moya was spewing, because she didn’t speak out against the Internet trolls, she believes she was a “failure friend”. Alongside her grief, guilt and self-harm, Maggie struggles with her mother’s severe depression, but also tingles with the hope that comes from starting art college: “now’s the time to make something of myself.” Indeed, she soon forms a band with new friends. Throughout, Maggie’s love of bands like The Smiths looms large, as does her relationship with her depressed mother. Maggie’s rage at her mother’s condition derives entirely from her primal love for her. She’s desperate for Mum to be happy, and her scheme to help her find happiness is heart-achingly poignant. Grief, depression, self-harm, online abuse, this novel is no walk in the park, yet it never drags the reader down. On the contrary. It’s sensitive, insightful, funny (Maggie is a master of biting one-liners), and genuinely uplifting as Maggie and Mum begin to find their way back to the world, with glinting prospects of love and new life.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Award winning Elizabeth Laird brilliantly brings to life thirteen year old Safiya’s new world as a refugee after her family flee from their comfortable home in Damascus because of the war in Syria. Safiya, her brother and father arrive in Jordan with nothing and must turn to relatives for help. Safiya has to adjust to living in a tent without running water. Suddenly, she is cleaning and washing and finding clever ways of making do on very little rather than going to school. But resourceful Safiya never gives up hope of going back to a better way for life or of finding her missing twin sister. A House without Walls is a vivid picture of a family facing an extreme experience with courage and imagination.
September 2019 Debut of the Month | Jo is the kind of open, honest, amusing character readers immediately care about. Told through her wittily illustrated diary, Jo’s tale begins with a(nother) upheaval. She and her family have just moved to their new Chinese takeaway, but her hopes for a fresh start are immediately dashed when she sees there’s no living room, and she has to share a room with little sister Bonny while big brother Simon lives with their grandparents. Jo’s experience of feeling “doubly different” is poignantly portrayed – she’s an outsider at school because she’s Chinese, and an outsider among her wider Chinese family because her own family is dysfunctional, and because she doesn’t speak the same language. Thank goodness, then, that she forms a friendship with fellow outcast, Tina the Goth, who stands up to racist school bullies. But while Jo begins to feel hopeful about her future and takes steps towards realising her dream of working in fashion, she and Bonny are increasingly neglected by their parents, and then there’s Dad’s aggressive outbursts. The mid-1980s setting prompts many amusing references, from ra-ra skirts and Gary Kemp’s perm, to sending drawings to Take Hart and going to Wimpy for a Knickerbocker Glory - but above all this is a highly readable, highly empathetic, impactful novel about familial abuse and neglect, trying to fit in, and finding your way in the world. Based on her own experiences, author Sue Cheung’s big-hearted story will chime with readers of 12+ who know how it feels to fall between cracks and dream of a different life.
Interest Age 5-8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | A wonderful adventure for a little girl who overcomes all her fears and gets an unexpected flight in a hot air balloon. Nick-named Scaredy Cat -Sophie by her sister, Sophie seems to be frightened of almost everything and so gets left out of a family trip to the fair to see a famous balloonist show off the tricks of his trade. Alone after the family have gone, Sophie’s great longing to see the amazing balloonist go up, up in the sky inspires her to overcome her fear and bravely set off for the fair alone. Soon Sophie finds that she too has an unexpected and very exciting trip ahead of her! Based on a story of Sophie Blanchard one of the first female astronauts this is a charming story that will encourage all readers to be brave. High quality cream paper and a special easy to read font ensure a smooth read for all.
September 2019 Book of the Month | Amara knows exactly what she wants for her 12th birthday: to visit her father’s family in New York. She understands it will be very different to Beavertown, Oregon, the small town she’s grown up in, but can’t wait to explore the big city and get to know her family properly. The trip is eye-opening in lots of ways as she learns more about her father and his childhood, about her family, and even her own history. Renée Watson shows us that families are complicated, that it’s never too late to change or make amends, and that we can all carry on learning even as we grow up. Quiet, though full of drama, and skilfully told, this is a touching and thought-provoking story with well-drawn, engaging characters; a book that will make a real impact on its reader.
Uncle Gobb is back for a third utterly ridiculous, absolutely hilarious and totally originally told adventure. Michael Rosen and Neal Layton use a brilliant integration of words and pictures to tell this meandering and many-layered story which engages readers with the complexity and creativity of storytelling.
Soar into space with this glorious love story of alien folk, from the creators of The Gruffalo and Stick Man. The Smeds (who are red) never mix with the Smoos (who are blue). So when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love, their families strongly disapprove. But peace is restored and love conquers all in this happiest of love stories. There's even a gorgeous purple baby to celebrate! With fabulous rhymes and breathtaking illustrations, this book is literally out of this world!
The story follows little Turtus as he hatches and makes his way towards the sea along with the other little turtles. However, he does not feel that he is like his brothers and sisters and this is confirmed as his journey continues. Eventually, he encounters his mother who explains that his father was in fact a giant land tortoise and assures him that he will meet him one day. This is a charming picture book using an effective, fairly natural and simple rhyme format which tends to appeal to young children. The illustrations are varied and appealing and match the text extremely well. Intrigue draws us in at the onset with the mystery of what is a 'Turtus' and reappears at the end of the tale when the reader is left with the expectation of eventually meeting Turtus' father in the next book. The story is also effective on other levels with its educational value and as an introduction to the fact that we are all different and can have a variety of different family situations. My granddaughter is 7 and really enjoyed this story and wants to know what happens next! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
September 2019 Debut of the Month | Ten-year-old Frank loves code and numbers; they’re a way to make sense of the world, as well as providing secret languages to share with his friends and his mum. Frank’s five-year-old brother Max is autistic and for him the world is often a scary place, when anything unexpected, too loud or too bright can cause him to have a meltdown. The story is narrated by Frank and every reader will understand his frustration at the unfairness of life. We know that he loves Max, but we know too how hard Max makes life for all the family. Frank is then faced with something even more terrible when tragedy strikes. With the help of those around him we watch Frank find a way to make sense of what has happened and the bravery to cope with the different world. Katya Balen has worked with neuro-divergent children and there’s a powerful sense of truth and understanding in her beautifully told story. If they like Wonder by R. J. Palacio they'll love The Space We're In.
Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize Best Fiction for 5-12's Award 2015 - March 2014 Debut of the Month A Boy Called Hope is a joyous, heart-breaking and life-affirming story of one boy and his messy, muddled and madcap family. Dan Hope may be an ordinary boy, in an ordinary home, in an ordinary town but he has an extraordinary amount of hope in his heart particularly when it comes to his dad who has left the family home. Perfect for fans of Annabel Pitcher and Frank Cottrell Boyce. A Piece of Passon from the Publisher: This is a book about a boy, Dan Hope. A story about his dreams and wishes, his fears and worries, and his search for hope. Because in life sometimes things are complicated and messy, not everyone is perfect, things can surprise us, they can make us laugh but they can also make us cry. This is Dan's story, about what makes the world go round, what brings people and families together, and most of all, how hope helps you dream. It's a book that we all loved and we couldn't be more proud to share the wonder that is A Boy called Hope with you.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | August 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: classic time-slip adventure with some contemporary twists | Sally Nicholls is adept at balancing excitement with humour, creating original page-turning stories that are rich with insight. Well-versed in time travel plots Alex and Ruby quickly guess what’s happened when they fall through an old mirror into 1912. They make friends with the children of the house, Dora and Henry (one of whom could be a great-grandparent) before being caught up in adventure: someone has stolen a valuable antique cup from charming Uncle Atherton, on the eve of his wedding too. High drama ensues including a race after the thieves in a vintage car. It’s a thoroughly satisfying adventure, with a proper sense of what the past would actually be like (much grubbier and smellier than Alex and Ruby expect), and tinged with real sadness too: the children are all too aware of what is in Henry and Ruby’s future. ~ Andrea Reece For more engaging and surprising time-travel adventure try Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters. The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “A fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable adventure from the always-entertaining Sally Nicholls. I couldn’t stop reading it!”
In a nutshell: satisfying and exciting story of a dog’s life | This short novel tells the story of golden retriever Bailey, from his days as a puppy up to maturity. When he runs away from his first home he’s lucky to be rescued from a hot locked car by a woman who gives him to her son, Ethan. Before long Ethan and Bailey are as close as only child and dog can be and we come to know both of them really well, though Ethan’s behaviour will always make more sense to human readers than it does to Bailey. A rivalry with another young man leads to a violent and shocking conclusion when Bailey’s love for his owner proves life-saving twice over. Like all the best animal stories this dog’s eye view of the world is completely convincing and will enthral readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: satisfying and exciting story of a rescue dog’s life | In this short novel, children get a dog’s eye view of the world as the story is narrated by rescue dog Ellie, from first days as a puppy through her special training to her career finding missing people - those who have got lost, one who has been kidnapped, and most dramatically one she saves after an earthquake. It makes for a fascinating story and Ellie’s voice is completely convincing: we understand, though she doesn’t, why her first owner Jakob cries at his wife’s grave; she makes us feel her contempt for cats! An excellent animal story this will thoroughly appeal to readers of classics such as The Incredible Journey as well as more recent stories such as Shadow by Michael Morpurgo. ~ Andrea Reece
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
Cape Town is the setting for Jaco Jacobs’ quirky adventure, but the emotions described will be familiar to all young readers. It’s the holidays and Marnus is bored, fed up too of being pushed around by his wheeler-dealer little brother, overlooked by his parents, and teased by his big brother. Everything changes when he meets Leila; within minutes he’s drawn into her campaign to save a tree in the local park, and actually camped out in its branches in defiance of the man from the water board, and his own mum. Their joint protest turns Marnus and Leila into special friends, and introduces them to a host of other eccentric characters too. When Marnus finally goes home, he’s quite a different boy. A lovely story about the importance of standing up for what you believe in and accepting who you are. Readers who relish Marnus’ adventure will also enjoy The Wilderness War by Julia Green.
In a nutshell: warm-hearted animal story set on a proper farm These sweet little stories are perfect for animal-mad youngsters and filled with useful information about how to care for pets. When friends Jasmine and Tom find an abandoned kitten they know they need to look after it. As Jasmine’s mum is a vet she can give them lots of advice on how to do this and soon the kitten, called Holly, is thriving. Jasmine loves Holly very much but as Christmas approaches she has to make the brave and generous decision to give Holly to someone who really needs her. A typically well-written and convincing story in this excellent series which has lots to appeal for young readers, particularly those who dream of living on a farm. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
February 2013 Debut of the Month All the travails of being a teenager seem to be heaped on the shoulders of the unfortunately named, April-May February. A scholarship girl at the exclusive local school, April-May seems to have a knack of getting everything just a little bit wrong. She blames her parents – of course – and takes refuge in the Twilight stories – whenever her teachers let her! The hectic pace of the dramas and April-May’s own largely benign view of them make this is a fresh and entertaining novel which reveals that teen trouble is the same the whole world over. A Piece of Passion from the Editor, Sara O'Connor A MONTH OF APRIL MAY: I couldn't resist April-May. She's the kind of whip-smart girl I wish I could have been when I was growing up. She loves books (like I did), but she doesn't let anyone push her around. As a South African sensation, Edyth Bulbring deserves her distinctive voice to be heard around the world. It's impossible not to fall in love with this utterly delightful book - with April-May February, stuck with the craziest name ever, her dad Fluffy and her mouth-breather friend Melly. A perfect book for young teens.
With a realistic farming setting this is a warm-hearted story that will delight all those who love Dick King-Smith’s animal stories. When Jasmine finds one of the farm’s brand new piglets is too weak to feed from its mother she must do everything she can to save it. Quickly naming it Truffle, Jasmine manages to get the piglet home without her mother noticing. But can she keep it alive? And what will happen as Truffle grows? ~ Julia Eccleshare The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “This series is going to be a classic. It’s beautifully written with clever plotting and proper animal adventure. Life as a farm vet’s daughter shows Jasmine that nature is not always kind and life-and-death situations are never far away. But what cute animals! And what great stories!”
The second in the hugely successful Meg Cabot series featuring Mia, a very normal 14 year old Manhatten school girl, who is suddenly pitched into being Princess Mia of the priniciplity of Genovia with everything at her finger tips - except perhaps the love of her life. Her diaries over a five year period have been enjoyed by millions of children worldwide and now with the culmination of the series, we felt it was time to bring them all together to ensure that a new generation doesn’t miss out on them. There are 10 titles culminating in the final Princess Diaries, Ten out of Ten, which features Princess Mia, aged 18 and all have been reissued with fresh, new covers to celebrate 15 years since first publication (A Royal Disaster was formerly titled Take Two).
In a Nutshell: Righting wrongs | Dispelling prejudice | Dramatic transformations An absorbing, touching tale about stepping-up, seeing people for who they really are, and finding love when you least expect it. Emily has always done the right thing. She and her gay friend Richard are dedicated to the Youth Action Coalition in their high school and campaign to change the world for good. But, after witnessing a horrific attack and doing nothing to help, Emily starts to question what kind of person she is. She and Lucas, a football player who also witnessed the attack and chose not to step in, must do community service in a Boundaries and Relationships class at their local Lifelong Learning Center as punishment. The victim of the attack was their classmate, Belinda. She has special needs, a thing for Colin Firth and a love of Pride and Prejudice. She also “used to be a person who loved hugging people” but she’s had to learn that “there are rules around hugging”, and everything else. When she feels brave enough to return to school after the attack, Belinda’s not allowed back to her old mail-sorting job, which she did well and enjoyed. Instead she must sit in the nurse’s office with paper and coloured markers, “like I'm in pre-school”. Emily remembers how Belinda used to steal the shows put on by the Children’s Story Theater they both belonged to. Seeing how Belinda’s light has faded exacerbates her guilt and both she and Lucas are determined to do something to make amends. Their volunteering experience is also having a profound effect. The people they work with remind Emily of her “old self”: “These folks aren't childish; they just haven't lost the enthusiastic attachments I associate with children”. And so she and Lucas come up with the perfect plan to make Belinda feel like she did “when I was famous and people came up to me in grocery stores and said how good I was”. There’s much soul-searching and romance along the paths of the characters’ inspirational journeys. Told with wit and warmth, this novel also overflows with moments that will break your heart - for example, when we experience the attack through Belinda’s eyes – and moments that will melt it. I’ll leave the last words to Belinda; after putting her own needs aside to help a friend, she realises that having a best friend is when “you care about them being happy as much as you care about yourself being happy. Maybe more”. ~ Joanne Owen