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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.
June 2019 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize 2019 | Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Childrens Book Prize 2019 | Lots of fun to read, this book cleverly delivers some important messages. The new, young king is frightened of the dark, so on day one of his reign, he decides he’ll ban it. His advisors realise the only way to make that work is if the people think it’s their idea, and start an anti-dark campaign. It works, the dark is banished and, because everyone has got what they thought they wanted, everyone is happy. Until of course, they realise what living in constant light is really like. Emily Haworth-Booth gives her story a fairy-tale feel and fills it full of humour. Little children will identify with the king, but they’ll understand why his scheme is not a good one. Brilliant!
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.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Kaye Umansky, the creator of the much-loved Pongwiffy stories follows up Witch for a Week with a new adventure about Magenta Sharp, a rather muddled local witch, and Elsie Pickles, the little girl she gets to help her. In this new adventure Elsie is invited back to the wandering tower that is Magenta’s home to help the witch to sort out the terrible chaos of her magic-selling business. Magenta has been ignoring the paperwork and she is now attracting so many complaints that she is threatened with the loss of her magical licence! Can Elsie save Magenta’s business? And can she also help her to keep an unruly genie under control while she is about it? as ever, Kaye Umansky’s magic is deliciously frothy and ridiculously good fun.
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Awards 2019, Books for Older Readers Category | Interest Age 8-10 Reading Age 8 | World War One remains a subject of fascination for readers of all ages, but Tom Palmer finds an original way in to the topic in this poignant new story. Lily is a keen fell runner, though she’s fed up of coming in as runner up in races. A visit to her grandparents reveals a surprise: her great-grandfather ran on the fells too. His experiences are recounted vividly in his diary, both his runs in his beloved Cumbria and his experiences as a soldier, recruited to run between positions on the front line, carrying crucial information to the allies. Their shared experiences form a powerful connection, and help Lily to understand herself better, and also to help her grandma when she needs it most. Today and yesterday are seamlessly woven together in a story that will move readers in lots of different ways.
Tony Bradman packs a great deal of adventure and humour into this little book, all presented in a way to make it ideal for new readers. Elvis is an impetuous young squirrel, and persuades his friend Chuck to leap onto the bird table without looking. Uh-oh, before you can say “Breakfast is served”, a huge crow called Ronnie has snatched Chuck away. Can Elvis persuade the other garden birds to help him in a rescue attempt? It’s a learning experience for Elvis, while readers will appreciate the short chapters and bright full colour illustrations, and as well as the exciting story of course, which all keep the pages turning smoothly
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Best friends Molly and Beth have a very special power: they can time travel! When Molly’s dad comes to live nearby, the girls realise that he is very lonely. He doesn’t see his only brother and he flatly refuses to have any kind of pet. How can the girls help him? Going back in time to the 1970s, Molly and Beth try to find out something from the past that can help them to cheer Dad up. Arriving at the time of Dad’s childhood they find that much was very different in the 1970s – cassettes for playing music, unfamiliar groups like The Bay City Rollers, some very weird hairstyles and clothes and no mobile phones! They also find out the misunderstanding when they were little boys that explains why Dad and his brother aren’t friends. A great new adventure for Molly and Beth who previously appeared in Time After Time and Stand By Me.
Three young friends set out on a summer road trip, each one carrying secrets and sorrows. Squashed into a battered old car, fuelled by warm beer and pub pies, they bicker and tease, with the ease that only comes from deep familiarity. We know even as they set out that they will never make another trip like this, that it’s the closing moment to one part of their lives. Filled with the sense of hot, dusty days, the lull between end and beginning, this is a classic summertime novel. More than just a coming-of-age story, it perfectly captures a transformative moment in the lives of its three central characters, and turns it into something that rings true for us all.
Menace, madness and medieval adventure abound in this thrilling fourth volume of the atmospheric Order of Darkness series by a doyenne of historical fiction. Luca Vero belongs to the Order of Darkness and has been charged with investigating disturbing occurrences that seem to herald the imminent end of the world. Travelling through medieval Europe with Lady Isolde and her companion Ishraq, he witnesses the alarming outbreak of “dancing sickness”. As Luca seeks to discover the truth behind this phenomenon – are the victims possessed by Satan? – Isolde herself succumbs to an overwhelming urge to dance after acquiring an irresistible pair of scarlet shoes from a travelling tradesman. Alongside being an epic adventure, and richly rewarding for history and mystery buffs, a powerful thread about rejecting prejudice and hatred weaves its way through this novel. “You have to do the right thing, not just the certain thing... Surely you want to be a good lord, not just a powerful one?” Such remarks about social responsibility and acting honorably resonate sharply, as does a potent sense of female empowerment. While women were believed to “have little determination and they are not strong”, the principle female protagonists here display much resolve, with Isolde determined to raise an army to win back her inheritance from her brother, and Ishraq being a highly educated free woman.