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In a nutshell: gripping, sometimes heart-breaking story of a dog and his boy Guardian award-winner Andy Mulligan brings his own sensibility to a much-loved model - boy and dog form special relationship - adding a particular humour, seriousness and depth. It’s love at first sight for Tom and Spider, but a series of accidents results in Spider running away from home. The animals he meets are almost universally cruel, their animal natures leading them to torment Spider and other animals too; a vixen offers to help him home but loses her life in the process. Things get bleaker still, until Spider finally fights his way back to Tom. A thrilling climax allows the two of them, both bullied, to emerge as heroes. Original, thought-provoking and with a dark humour, this is an ultimately uplifting read, and very memorable. Andrea Reece
A sublimely fresh and moving exploration of how it feels to be teetering on that giddy precipice between childhood and adulthood. Marcie is on the verge of everything changing. About to leave school and head to university, she feels lost, left in limbo. She’s struggling with family, she has yet to discover her own dreams and she simply doesn’t know what she wants. Cue the re-entry of her childhood imaginary best friend, Thor, a boy with bear arms whom Marcie cast from her life some years ago. Through their alternating narratives, we learn that both Marcie and Thor are heading towards a time of epic transformation, and together they navigate these terrifying tides of change. Spiced with pithy life lessons - ”A rollercoaster’s only fun because you know you’re getting off at some point” - this really is an unusually ingenious novel. The wildly off-the-wall set-up casts a soulful spell that becomes more potent when readers take time to take-in every single word. A rare gem.
June 2018 Debut of the Month | This cool concept, genre-subverting page-turner sees a group of affluent teenagers enmesh themselves in the life and art of a hit new YA writer with shocking consequences, as their lives become her art.Mira is obsessed with Fatima Ro’s novel and jumps at the chance to meet the author in real life. Both she and her privileged peer group are totally smitten by her style and her ‘theory of human connection’ so they conspire to get closer to her. After a couple of contrived not-so-chance encounters (like their heroine, the friends are no strangers to the art of manipulation), Fatima announces, “I want you to be my people”, which sends them reeling with joy, but becoming “her people” has grave consequences…As we discover through the retrospectively-told narratives, stricken by writer’s block, Fatima turns to the lives of her new companions as a source of material. Looking back over the past months, Penny is adamant that she and her friends were cruelly used by Fatima. “She set us all up like pawns for a fall”, Penny accuses. “She wasn’t talented enough to think of her own story.” Penny’s view is given weight when she reveals the jaw-dropping source of Fatima’s famed theory of human connection. But, as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story and, in this case, Mira’s story sees her defend her heroine to the end. Razor-sharp on the cult of celebrity, this cuttingly compelling novel is also thought-provoking on manipulation, artistic responsibility and forgiveness. The smart, unconventional narrative devices and structure (multiple points of view, novel excerpts, interview snippets) make for an addictive read, and the twists uncoil with stabs of deadly venom.
Al’s Awesome Science is perfect for children who are becoming confident readers and want to progress to chapter books. A fun and hilarious page turning plot, accompanied by lots of black and white pictures to pore over and enjoy. Each title includes, fun and at times messy, step-by-step science experiments, integrated in comic book form to accompany the text.
June 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: themes of fatherhood, memory and guilt explored in haunting YA novella Mal Peet, who died in 2015, wrote with extraordinary sensitivity and insight and this novella, freshly published by Barrington Stoke, is testimony to his talent. Benjamin finds himself by accident outside his old home and revisits memories of the garden and treehouse that 20 years ago were such a key part of his childhood. His father built the treehouse for him but it quickly changed from being a place of shared stories to something less happy – a hideaway from his mother, a hiding place for his father as he turned away from the outside world. The story is a painful one, years on Ben is still torn by conflicting loyalties, still angry with his father, still guilty for abandoning him. His return brings some new perspectives, but no happy resolution. Emma Shoard’s new illustrations equal the text for rawness, depth and resonance. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 14+ Illustrator, Emma Shoard says: “After much anticipation, I am so happy to be working on this beautiful story by Mal Peet. There is so much depth and reality to the relationship between his characters; I hope to illustrate something of those spacious places he has created in between the lines. The huge, ancient beech tree at the centre of this story is a real treat for an illustrator.” Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
May 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: old magic in the real world of today A game of Truth or Dare in the humdrum setting of a school trip coach journey is the starting point for Sally Christie’s highly original story. Matt isn’t a quick thinker, so when he’s asked to tell his new school mates something true and unusual, he reveals that he’s seen a fairy. No-one believes him except for Jazzy - perhaps playing Ariel in a production of The Tempest has coloured her view of the world. Together they keep watch in the local woods for its mysterious inhabitants, to the confusion and envy of Jazzy’s former best friend Tash. Next to the strange, magical fairy world glimpsed in the woods, our own seems both more vivid and shabbier, but this beautifully-written, unforgettable story ends with a real sense of hope and growth. ~ Andrea Reece
May 2018 Debut of the Month | Picture this. You’re an honors student with a top university in your sights. You work hard, and you follow your mother’s advice to always put your best foot forward. So how come, when you help a friend in need, you’re man-handled by the police and arrested? How come the cops tell you that they “know your kind...Just couldn’t resist the pretty white girl who’s locked her keys in her car, could ya?” As Yale-bound African American Justyce knows only too well, “things aren’t as equal as folks say they are”. At every turn he’s caught between worlds: a white classmate attributes his success to positive discrimination, while he’s accused of being a race traitor by some of his black peers. He airs this elemental conundrum with SJ, his debate partner: “white people hold most positions of authority in this country. How do I deal with the fact that I DO need them to get ahead without feeling like I’m turning my back on my own people?” And what’s he supposed to do when he falls for SJ and his mama’s dead against him dating a white girl? As the compelling, gut-wrenching story unfolds, Justyce writes a journal to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. to work through his thoughts, vent his frustrations and to ask what Dr King would do in his situation. Then a tragedy strikes that threatens to disarm Justyce’s pledge to do as Martin would do. Important, timely and unforgettable, this powerful exposé of racism, injustice and the injuriousness of profiling articulates the persistent everyday battles faced by thousands of kids in Justyce’s shoes with scorching lucidity. Quite simply, everyone must read this poignant punch-packer of a debut.
***Recommended for 16+ due to content. Book of the Month for May 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 |In a Nutshell: love, truth and the power of release | A gripping, soulful novel about a life-changing day, which will surely change the lives of those who read it. "Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?" remarks 17 year-old Adam as a single day unfurls wave after wave of shattering disruption: first a revelation from his brother, next an ultimatum from his foul boss, then a destabilising announcement from his beloved best friend. And alongside Adam's unraveling, there’s the mesmerising narrative of the ghost of a murdered girl who’s risen from a lake in search of release. Partly modeled on two of the author’s most admired books (Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever), with this remarkable novel Ness once again demonstrates his profound understanding of the complexities of being a young adult, and of the human condition more generally. Adam’s story is pinpricked with truly nerve-touching moments, perhaps most poignantly between him and the overbearing father he fears coming-out to. At one point his dad reveals that he wishes Adam could be honest with him, and then Adam begins to let go. While revealing truths can be excruciatingly painful, doing so might also bring refreshing, life-affirming release. Heartbreaking, intense and acutely honest, this novel casts a subtle spell of hope. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Falling in love, taking a stand, and standing tall Exploring an unforgettable relationship between two young women and obstructive social inequalities, this is a thoroughly thought-provoking, engaging read. I was mightily impressed by the author’s debut Countless, and this confirms her prowess at covering big social and emotional themes with heartfelt depth. Joni’s family is struggling to make ends meet. With her mum working all hours and her dad incapacitated by a bad back, she brings in extra cash with a weekend job at the local library. It’s at the library that Joni meets Annabel, daughter of a big shot businessman and benefactor. Joni has good reason to dislike posh Annabel, but her first reaction soon shifts to overwhelming attraction, a feeling that turns out to be mutual. The scenes in which Joni and Annabel visit each other’s homes are incredibly affecting, with the passion of their first intimate encounters and increasing closeness contrasted with the class chasm that separates them. Their life chances are as different as their life styles. While Annabel has a huge house and an actual lake, Joni’s family is on the brink of being evicted as a result of a corporate buy-out of their estate. As is clear from Annabel’s situation, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does keep a roof over your head, and so with time running out Joni steps up her involvement in her brother’s campaign to save their estate. Throughout Joni’s spirit and sense of hope are inspirational. Despite the unfairness she and her family must fight in order to survive, she holds onto to the belief that “things can change, if you keep trying”. Highly recommended for readers who like their YA to mix real-life issues with romance, and I loved the twist that makes the political all too personal. ~ Joanne Owen
The day is long, the world is wide, you're young and free. One hot summer morning, Davie steps boldly out of his front door. The world he enters is very familiar - the little Tyneside town that has always been his home - but as the day passes, it becomes ever more mysterious. A boy has been killed, and Davie thinks he might know who is responsible. He turns away from the gossip and excitement and sets off roaming towards the sunlit hills above the town. As the day goes on, the real and the imaginary start to merge, and Davie knows that neither he nor his world will ever be the same again.
It's hard to be the new girl but for Ella things are even more complicated. She has recently moved to a new area - and a new school - with her mum and brother, and a big secret. Ella has a talent for art, particularly photography, and joins the art club where she grows her friendship with Lydia, the school queen bee. But Lydia isn't all she seems and her motives behind her friendship with Ella are unpleasant. Soon Ella realises she is under Lydia's control but why? And what does Lydia hold against Molly? This is a pacy story of secrets and lies but it also carries a heartwarming message of friendship and finding the inner strength to be who you really want to be.
In a Nutshell: Epic fantasy packed with passion and paranormal intrigue There are dark dangers and dilemmas aplenty in this glamorous, gripping sequel to Lady Midnight, second in The Dark Artifices trilogy. Part-angel, part-human Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs may have accomplished her mission to avenge her parents’ death, but a new dark shadow now looms over her Los Angeles hometown. As a Shadowhunter, she’s bound to her parabatai soulmate, Julian Blackthorn. They must fight together, even die together, but to fall in love – as they do – could prove fatal. Yet Emma cannot flee Julian to escape this conflict. They need each other, they need the Black Volume of the Dead, and only a Blackthorn can find it. With the eponymous Lord of Shadows set on annihilating those with Blackthorn blood, the stakes could not be higher as Emma and co. voyage into the Courts of Faerie to find the powerful spell book. With her fiercely indomitable spirit and razor-sharp tongue, Emma is a brilliantly badass heroine, and the tangled dynamics of her relationships with her co-characters are intoxicatingly compelling. Simmering with tension, and heady with high-stakes action, sequels don’t come more satisfying than this. ~ Joanne Owen
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