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Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Everybody knows what they think about bullies, but this story might make them think again. Jason Banks is king of the school, not because he’s clever or popular but because he’s a bully and everyone is afraid of him. Then a new girl joins the class. Millie is small and pale, and doesn’t seem to be scared of anything. She knows a way to give Jason a taste of his own medicine but she knows too what he really needs to change. This funny, clever and entertaining story will get readers thinking and talking. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph. Seventeen-year-old Bobby Seed is a devoted son and big brother and an all-round firework of wit and charm, wise and strong beyond his years. He’s also a young carer to his mum who’s suffering from debilitating MS. Bobby has to “brush his mother’s locks every day, sort out her medicine, sponge her clean three times a week, ooze positivity” even when all he wants to do is “punch the shit out of a walk or wail in the shower”. In his situation “the worry of death never leaves you”, but that doesn’t stop the brilliant banter between Bobby and his mum. Theirs is a beautiful, tender relationship. Bobby does what he does for her “because she’s my Mum. That pure and simple”. Bobby’s spirits are kept up by best friend Bel and attending Poztive support group for young carers. It’s there he falls for Vespa-riding Lou, who helps him fulfill his mum’s unexpected birthday request as her deterioration quickens. But then comes the ultimate request. Can he do what Mum needs to alleviate her excruciating pain and loss of function? Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character – we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby’s book of strength and wit - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank.
Who better than friendly, lovable Elmer to introduce the very young to first concepts. Learning colours is lots of fun with Elmer, who is himself of course an irresistible patchwork and so vibrant that just looking at him gladdens the heart. Here he shows off all your favourite colours, balancing yellow and orange citrus fruits on his trunk, enjoying a pink lolly at the beach, running over green grass under a blue sky. Chunky tabs make it especially good for little hands, and each different scene is full of first learning opportunities. ~ Andrea Reece
Elmer introduces his friends and more in this bright, user-friendly board book. He’s the brightest, giraffe is the tallest, snake is the longest – it’s a great way to learn important first concepts and to develop children’s vocabulary and understanding of the world too. Elmer is the perfect pre-school character – warm, friendly, reassuring and this is a lovely book to share with the very young. Chunky tabs make turning the pages especially easy for little fingers. ~ Andrea Reece
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
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | 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