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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
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
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | “The day is long, the world is wide, you’re young and free,” Davie’s mam announces at the start of a sweltering day. But Davie doesn’t feel that way. He recently lost his dad and “he hates this dead-end place, where nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change. Sometimes he just wants to walk out of it and keep on walking and leave it all behind”. Then this morning, as Davie walks through his hometown, David discovers that something has happened - a local lad has been killed, and Davie thinks he knows who’s responsible. Amidst the speculation of his Tyneside neighbours, Davie embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts, encountering a cast of wisdom-imparting folk along the way. There’s wooden-legged Wilf who shares advice and fruit gums; the openhearted priest who makes a confession; the girls creating a “world of wonders” garden. While walking, Davie feels the flutter and ache of grief as “bleak, black memories” surface but, as a friend of his father says, “sometimes a memory or a dream is a fine place to be”. “What is lost might be discovered again, but in a different form”, counsels another character. And as he continues on his way, watching out for the murder suspect, Davie seems to find his father in another form. Wise and soulfully unexpected, this is truly a book for all ages, by an author who exudes the uncanny elegance of a master conjurer.
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
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A new story for that best of all dogs, McTavish, and another delicious helping of wry, insightful observation on human and family life. McTavish’s efforts to help the Peachey family become happier and more organised still has a way to go, but he’s an intelligent dog and up to the job. When the family embark on a camping holiday in a remote but beautiful bit of Scotland, McTavish needs all his cleverness and patience to show them how to relax and properly enjoy themselves. McTavish is an irresistible character, his gentle guiding of the Peacheys is very funny indeed, and this beautifully story will leave all readers smiling. ~ Andrea Reece 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.
James Patterson creates books kids love, and his latest book is all about a boy who decides to create books kids love by setting up his own book company. Jimmy is determined to follow his dream of a company run by kids for kids, despite the scepticism of parents, teachers and the bank. The story mixes real life and fantasy, and along the way slips lots of recommendations for other unputdownable children’s books from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, the book that inspires Jimmy to keep trying no matter what. It could have sunk under the weight of self-reference (the book also mentions lots of Patterson’s own children’s books) but the author knows what he’s doing and the pacey narrative, variety of scenes and events, and Jimmy’s straight-to-camera narrative keeps the pages turning nicely.
May 2018 Book of the Month | | Interest Age 5-8 | The villagers in this charming story rely on their telephone for different reasons and when the local line is damaged in a storm they are all affected. Margaret can't organise her May Fair, Jean can't keep in touch with her family and Will's mum might miss the latest naughty escapades her son has got up to! After the telephone company arrives to fix the wires things get more complicated as the houses are mistakenly connected to the wrong number and confusion reigns. But as the neighbours have to relay messages to each other the community starts to grow closer. Based upon true events this is a heartwarming tale of friendship and solidarity borne out of adversity, with the uplifting message that co-operation and kindness brings the highest rewards.
Riga is the setting for this fairy-tale like adventure, and the city is depicted so clearly that it’s almost a character in the story. Jacob lives with his father and, often lonely, distracts himself by drawing maps of the city and dreaming about its myths, especially the one that says when the city is finally complete, all building work finished, its river will rise up and flood the streets. When he’s sent across town to stay with his uncle and cousin, he finds himself caught up in a battle against developers with – of all things – a pack of talking dogs at his side. The real world and magic mix in a story that will wriggle its way into children’s imaginations and stay there for a long time.
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.
There are seven brand new Paddington stories in this lovely collection and the little bear is the same lovable character he’s ever been - well meaning, inquisitive, innocent, responsible for comical misunderstandings and mishaps wherever he goes. Paddington appears in a TV cookery show and the settings for the new stories are right up to date but the language is of another age - ‘I should cocoa’ says Mr Brown – and gives the stories a particular charm. At a time when we need these values more than ever, Michael Bond continues to champion tolerance and openness – we’re reminded that Paddington is an immigrant on the second page of the first story. ‘Bears may come and bears may go, but there’s only one Paddington’ says Judy. Hear, hear. Readers looking for modern day stories in the same vein should look at Clara Vulliamy and Polly Faber’s Mango and Bambang series or The Bolds by Julian Clary and David Roberts.
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