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Like all classics of American middle grade fiction - as this may well be esteemed in future - this is radiant with humour, heart and a whole lot of indelibly authentic child-centred observations and emotions. With his dad away on army service, and faced with being plunged into the jungle of middle school, Carter already has plenty on his plate when his family inherits the services of an eccentric British butler. While Carter is quick to revolt against the butler’s rigorous regime of tea-drinking, homework and housekeeping (including folding underwear, can you believe it?!), the butler’s ways, wisdom and polite-but-firm guidance (AKA being “a pain in the glutes”) casts a healing spell over the family’s soul, exactly when they need it most. Then, as the butler shares his love of “the most lovely and sportsmanly game that mankind has yet conceived” (AKA cricket) with Carter’s schoolmates, Carter himself comes to share his troubles and release his anger and grief so he can keep the metaphoric “bails from coming down”. Suffused with the same warmth, compassion and originality of the author’s stunning debut, Orbiting Jupiter , this funny, moving middle grade novel is a true treasure with broad appeal and rich rewards.
Laugh-out-loud funny and instantly recognisable - not since The Inbetweeners has a coming of age story been so irreverent and relatable. Fifteen-year-old Sam is not a famous vlogger, he's never gone viral, and he doesn't want to be the Next Big Thing. In fact he's ordinary and proud of it. None of which was a problem until Dad got rich and Mum made the whole family move to London. Now Sam's off to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, where everyone's busy planning Hollywood domination or starting alt-metal psychedelica crossover bands. Sam knows he'll never belong, even if he wanted to. And that's before he ends up on stage wearing nothing but a fur onesie ... A brilliantly funny look at fitting in, falling out and staying true to your own averageness.
The astonishing new novel from the incomparable, multi-award-winning and Laureate na nOg Sarah Crossan. I am not who I say I am, and Marla isn't who she thinks she is. I am a girl trying to forget. She is a woman trying to remember. Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there - and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself - where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?
Jacqueline Wilson is as at home writing about the past as she is writing about contemporary times and this story of Mona growing up in the 1920s is full of her trademarks: a booky little heroine, an unconventional family, creativity rewarded, and the importance of love and honesty. Mona lives with her aunty who works her fingers to the bone as a seamstress to support her niece. Their home is the gamekeeper’s cottage in the grounds of the local landowners’ estate and as the story unfolds Mona’s life becomes intertwined with the aristocratic Somersets, for all her lowly birth. The post-war period with its new sense of freedom and expression is brilliantly evoked, and Mona’s journey of self-discovery perfectly matches the new era. With a special guest appearance by Hetty Feather this is classic Wilson and will thoroughly enchant her legions of fans.
Eric’s aunty has a history of finding really unusual presents, and the latest is a stone that can apparently make wishes come true. In the best tradition of stories about things that grant wishes, Eric’s caught out and ends up accidentally wishing for the thing he really wants – a dad. As it slowly dawns on Eric that his headmaster Mr Hodgett, aka The Bodge, is a possible candidate he panics – wouldn’t you? But perhaps the stone knows what it’s doing after all … Barbara Mitchelhill cleverly weaves magic into everyday life and equally skilfully mixes zany humour with touching, real emotions and there’s a great deal of story packed into this little book. Illustrations by Tony Ross are typically lively, Eric and his friends wonderfully loose-limbed and scruffy.
It’s definitely a case of (very) slow and steady winning the race in this amusing and original picture book. Sloth is inspired by the superhero story he finds in a comic book left in the jungle so when mean Anteater starts stealing fruit from the other animals he – leaps is definitely the wrong word – goes into action. It turns out that moving very slowly and looking like a bit of tree are actually useful superpowers. Sloth is an engaging hero and Starling fills the jungle scenes with movement and character. The action builds to a rewarding conclusion, and neatly delivers a message about the value of different types of ability.
It’s a superhero book, folks, but not as we know it. Murph, star of this funny and good-natured series by Greg James and Chris Smith, is different from most of the kids at his school in that he doesn’t have superpowers. However, there’s a lot to be said for teamwork, and as leader of the Super Zeroes, he’s discovered a way to be heroic without the powers. Have he and his compadres met their match though in the thoroughly unscrupulous supervillain Magpie? As ever it’s a fast-moving caper packed with jokes and humour, and thoroughly satisfying from beginning to end. Erica Salcedo deserves special mention too for her energetic and distinctive black and white illustrations. One to recommend to fans of David Solomons’ My Brother is a Super-Hero series and Danny Wallace’s Hamish books.
Framed was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Prize 2007 'The Book I Couldn't Put Down.' and shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal | Framed has been chosen as a favourite book by our Guest Editors Philip Ardargh and Joanna Nadin. Philip Ardagh: Reviewing children's books for a national newspaper on a fairly regular basis means that I have to read a goodly number of books I might never otherwise have made the time to do. Stumbling upon books such as Framed is one of the perks of the job. I could tell you that it's about the redemptive power of art but I'm not absolutely sure how to spell 'redemptive' and, anyway, what it's really about is a boy and his dad... and families, and what makes them tick, stop ticking and then tick again. Frank Cottrell Boyce is a craftsman. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Joanna Nadin: Frank Cottrell Boyce writes boys with humour, irony and compassion. Although best known for Millions, it is his second novel, Framed, that I go back to time and time again: the laugh-out-loud funny and try-not-to-cry story of nine-year-old Dylan Hughes, man of the house, boss of the failing family business, and the only boy left in Manod.
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2008 and the Carnegie Medal 2008 | Comic and cosmic, this is a roller coaster adventure that takes Liam Digby up into space with a handful of other children and their parents. It’s an hilarious journey of discovery as Liam hurtles around the world finding out exactly what makes children and adults different.
Shortlisted in the UK Author Category in the National Book Awards 2018 | She’s back - Tracy Beaker, star of the dumping ground and daydreamer extraordinaire, and what a joy that is! She may be grown up and with a daughter of her own, Jess, but she’s still our Tracy: generous, quick to lose her temper but just as quick to apologise, always hoping for the best and coping with the worst. Life with Tracy is all highs and lows, and it’s wonderfully described by Jess – the new boyfriend who seems set to make Tracy’s dreams come true, the special relationship between mother and daughter, and their version of happy ever after. Funny, touching, true, the story will appeal to Tracy Beaker fans old and new.
Winner of the 2004 CILIP Carnegie Medal | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2019 | When a bag stuffed full of money falls out of a train and into their camp, Damian and Anthony are suddenly rich. Very, very rich, to be precise. But, there is a problem. They only have a few days in which to spend the money. When the Euro arrives, it’ll be worthless. A thrilling story about the real value of money but Millions is more than an adventure as the boys have recently lost their mother and their search for happiness is tinged with the sadness that, however much money they have, they’ll never be able bring her back
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