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One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Interest Age YA Reading Age 8 | Alex Wheatle serves up an invigorating slice of teen life starring three kids growing up on his fictional Crongton estate. Briggy and Terror have been best friends for years but Terror’s romance with the gorgeous, super-cool Caldonia threatens to push them apart. So when Terror comes up with a ‘cadazy’ plan to rob the Crongton post office, for the sake of their friendship Briggy has no choice but to go along with it. As the boys plan their heist, normal life goes on, with tension at home making Briggy’s get-rich-quick dreams even more powerful. Sharp, funny, moving and written in rat-a-tat sentences that turn teen speak into a kind of poetry. Brilliant.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Fizzing with style, energy and charm here’s a new adventure for little witches Tiga and Fluffanora and it proves to be their most testing yet! Idabelle Bat has invited them to join The Points, here super-cool and exclusive gang – but why? The one thing they know about Idabelle is that she is NOT to be trusted … As ever the story zips along as though on fairy wings, sprinkled with fashion and fun, and these gorgeous little books are hard to beat for style and substance. Readers who like Tiga and Fluffanora will also enjoy the Amelia Fang stories by illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson, and Sibeal Pounder’s Bad Mermaids series.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Susin Nielsen’s new novel features unforgettable central characters, and is beautifully written; her ear for dialogue – young teen to teen, young teen to parent, young teen to emergency services – pitch perfect. Despite being a story of homelessness and poverty, it will leave readers cheered and thoroughly reassured about the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Twelve-year old Felix lives with his mother Astrid, only rarely seeing his dad. Astrid has a flexible attitude to truth and Felix has developed a chart to measure the lies she tells as they navigate their lives. These range from ‘the invisible lie’, through the ‘no-one gets hurt’ to the biggest, the ‘someone might lose an eye’ lie. As they struggle to cope living in a (stolen) camper van, Astrid uses her panoply of lies to the full and Felix reluctantly goes along with it, ready to support his mother even when it’s really difficult. Nielsen gives him good friends, and a talent for memorising facts, both of which help to set up a better future for him. Both painful and funny, this is a book that will have readers alternatively shouting at its central characters, and cheering them on.
Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Kate DiCamillo’s unforgettable Raymie Nightingale, now she has her own story, and what a tale it is. Louisiana has always believed that her parents were high wire stars, killed in an accident when she was very young, but driven by terrible toothache and an urge to come to terms with her own past, her granny suddenly reveals that everything Louisiana knows about her life is a lie. Abandoned in a motel miles from her old home in Florida, Louisiana is left to decide who she wants to be. She is befriended by a boy called Burke Allen and his family including his seventeen cake baking mother, and the kindness of strangers helps her to new happiness and security. A story of grief and confusion becomes one of love, hope and resilience. DiCamillo writes with extraordinary sensitivity and perception, and readers of all ages will be touched and moved by Louisiana’s story. Readers who enjoy this book should also read The Road to Ever After by Moira Young.
I If you want to guarantee smiles and laughter on Christmas morning, stick a copy of Hamish and the Terrible Terrible Christmas under the tree. It features three self-contained stories starring Hamish, Elliott and Alice, stars of Wallace’s Worldstopper series, and as with the longer novels each story serves up a brilliant helping of comedy and excitement live from Starkley. Officially Starkley may be the fourth most boring town in Britain but as fans of these books know, it’s often the scene for bizarre happenings and a magnet for marauding creatures including the beastly Terribles. Plenty of scope therefore for wild adventure and that combined with Danny Wallace’s humour make this irresistible reading. Jamie Littler’s illustrations are the icing on the Christmas cake.
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.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | The dazzlingly brilliant Chris Riddell brings his magical illustration talents to J.K. Rowling's gloriously inventive The Tales of Beedle the Bard in a fully illustrated colour edition of this essential classic for Harry Potter fans. Full of magic and trickery, these classic tales both entertain and instruct, and remain as captivating to young wizards today as they were when Beedle first put quill to parchment in the fifteenth century. A world of magical adventure awaits! Visit Bloomsbury's Harry Potter website for magical downloads, games, videos, and more Harry Potter fun!
October 2018 Book of the Month | This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud. Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name of keeping them safe. The palace is transformed into a tomb, and “only melancholy was allowed to illuminate the girls’ days”. But brave, clever Frida stands up to her father. “This isn’t fair, and you know it,” she protests. “You cannot tell us how to grieve”. And then, with the grace and strength of a lioness and the potency of her imagination, Frida leads her sisters in a fight to re-find life. The writing pirouettes with the lithe power of a devoted dancer, with Angela Barrett’s elegant illustrations in perfect accord. What a sumptuous, stirring celebration of sisterhood this is.
October 2018 Book of the Month | | Tales of the rabbit secret service that loyally serves her majesty from burrows beneath Buckingham Palace, this charming series is going from strength to strength. Someone has stolen the queen’s favourite jewel – a priceless diamond that also seems able to comfort those who possess it. The Royal Rabbits are determined to retrieve it, none more so than young Shylo, who was asleep on the job when the theft occurred. A rich, beautiful and vain tigress could be the culprit, but the diamond is Russian and a team of cunning Kremlin minks are out to steal it back, and you can bet those rotten Ratzis are involved too. Humour (including the occasional bit of social satire) and proper adventure are perfectly balanced and Shylo gets more interesting a character as the stories progress. Delightful, and Kate Hindley’s illustrations make it even more special.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Karen McCombie tells a big story in a short extent in this new book for dyslexia specialists Barrington Stoke, and it's one that will intrigue readers from the opening pages. Hannah is feeling left out - her mum and dad are so preoccupied with her stroppy big sister that they don't notice their younger daughter, and her best friends seem to have new interests that shut Hannah out. So when she finds a diary in the park, it feels like she has a new friend, the person who wrote it seems so open, cool and honest. When the two girls actually meet, both their lives are changed for the better. The story is full of surprises and its message to look for the best things in life is valuable for everyone.
September 2018 Book of the Month | From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact.
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