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August 2019 Book of the Month | When you were born, a song began... So begins this lyrical and unique non-fiction picture book by award-winning children's author Nicola Davies. With tenderness and heart, Nicola introduces young readers to the universal rights that every child is entitled to under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Using the metaphor of song, the book opens with the arrival of a newborn and its unique 'song', then pans out to explore all the essential things that every song needs to thrive - love, protection, a home, a name, the chance to explore and learn. In the latter half of the book, the issues of child labour, exploitation and war are sensitively introduced to emphasise that we all must play our part in championing children's rights and offering support to those who need it most. With deeply moving watercolour illustrations by award-winning artist Marc Martin, this is a book that encourages children and adults alike to speak up for young people all around the world, and to treat one another with compassion and kindness.
August 2019 Debut of the Month | “So who is The Black Flamingo?” asks Katy with genuine curiosity.I reply, “He is me, who I have been, who I am, who I hope to become. Someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on” The Black Flamingo follows Michael as he comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen and finds his wings at university as a drag artist. An exploration of a mixed-race LGBTQ+ experience in Britain, The Black Flamingo is a bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
Rob and Maegan both have a whole lot on their plates. Rob’s rich dad attempted suicide after he was caught embezzling their community and he’s now severely disabled, unable to speak or do anything for himself. Until eight months ago, “Everyone wanted to be me,” but now Rob’s an outcast, tainted by his father’s fraud, which is something Maegan also knows a thing or two about. Previously an academic overachiever, pressures led her to cheat in last year’s exams, which in turn led to hundreds of her peers’ marks being invalidated. Connected by a Calculus project and their dads (Maegan’s cop father was first on the scene when Rob’s dad shot himself), the two outcasts strike up an unlikely friendship, and more. Alongside their romance and the gripping twists, I loved the moving camaraderie between Rob and Owen, whose single mom was thrown into crippling financial hardship by Rob’s dad. For a book that packs-in plenty of big issues, it’s also an entertaining page-turner - the perfect YA package with the overriding messages that “one mistake doesn’t define you”, and “one choice doesn’t determine your whole future.”
Winner of the An Post Irish Book Awards Teen & Young Adult Book of the Year 2018 | Longlisted for The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | 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.
In a nutshell: friendship and understanding can change the world Two young people under extraordinary pressure are at the heart of Siobhan Curham’s compassionate, affecting and ultimately uplifting novel. Hafiz is a refugee newly arrived in Britain after two terrifying years on the road. His parents are still in Syria. Stevie’s mother is suffering with depression, spending most of her time asleep and relying on her daughter for everything. Money is tight and Stevie struggles to keep her predicament a secret from school and classmates. Brought together by accident the two become friends, bonding as much over a shared love of strong coffee and arcade claw machines as through their joint loneliness and isolation. Both their lives are changed as a result. Tender and convincing, the story demonstrates that with friendship, unity and humanity there’s hope even in the most extreme circumstances. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2018 A funny and touching family story with a difference just because the Lotterys themselves are a unique and diverse family leading a deliberately alternative life and with more complicated relationships than is usual. With four parents from different cultures, seven children and five pets for a start, things are bound to be lively. When an estranged grandfather with dementia joins them, a whole load of new situations arise as well as new scope for understanding and kindness. Written with great verve and a deep understanding of families and what holds them together The Lottery Plus One is both fun and thought provoking. ~ Julia Eccleshare A Piece of Passion from editor, Venetia Gosling: ‘it’s a smart, funny and wise novel with a wonderful family set-up and family dynamic which readers will love. Emma has done a wonderful job of reflecting the world conveying it through the warmth and muddle of this very modern family.’ Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for March 2018 The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue King Coo by Adam Stower Splish, Splash, Ducky! by Lucy Cousins We Are Not Frogs! (Little Gems) by Michael Morpurgo The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear by Margrete Lamond Song of the Dolphin Boy by Elizabeth Laird What Do People Do All Day? (50th anniversary edition) by Richard Scarry Bird House by Libby Walden Bug Hotel by Libby Walden Alone Together by Clayton Junior The Lost Penguin by Claire Freedman
March 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Young carers learn to live for today Tender in both name and tone, this involving debut tackles tough themes with heart-wrenching honesty. Marty’s mum struggles to get out of bed, while for Marty it’s the going to bed that’s the problem, “because that’s when the thinking starts… Give me the mornings anytime. Give me the light”. Marty’s life was on track until his dad died, but he’s now all but dropped out of school and is terrified of what might happen if the social workers knew how ill his mum has become. But it’s the social workers who give him a leaflet about a young carers group, which is where he meets Daisy… Daisy has problems of her own. Her beloved brother Harry has debilitating muscular dystrophy. During one young carers meeting, Daisy is passionate about wanting to see the world, which seems impossible to Marty. His world is poorer and smaller. It’s confined to his estate and revolves around his mum. But, while they come from different worlds, they’re united by that fact that they both feel powerless when it comes to what matters most. Daisy can’t make Harry well, and Marty can’t bring back his dad or fix his mum. Consequently, they find solace - and more - in each other. Honest on the realities of mental illness, grief and how it feels to be a teen carer, this truly touching read shines a bright light of love and hope through Daisy and Marty’s darkest days. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: families lost and remade through love, friendship and music Lexie is a rescuer: it starts when she finds a lost tortoise and leads to her setting up the Lost and Found group at school. That’s meant to be a talking session for the lonely, but turns instead, thanks to the input of school bad boy Marley, into a vibrant musical band. Forming the Lost and Found helps Lexie understand her own feelings - she’s been looking for her mum who disappeared when Lexie was just nine. It also helps her finally accept the love of her foster family. It’s a typically heart-warming story, filled with characters young readers will understand, and shows how we can all find communities to love and support us. Cathy Cassidy writes with the insight and lightness of touch that marks out Jacqueline Wilson, and this new series will be another favourite with readers. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: magical lands and a dangerous quest make for a classic fantasy adventure Claire wasn’t pleased to inherit the huge old house and its myriad contents owned by her great-aunt Diana, who mysteriously disappeared on a treasure-hunting trip. It’s a strange old place full of hidden rooms. Far from their friends, Claire and her big sister Sophie explore the house, until something magical happens: Sophie finds a ladder in a chimney and climbs up and into another world. When she disappears, Claire must find and rescue her sister. Arden, the world at the top of the chimney, is a strange and sometimes frightening place and Claire must find real reserves of courage. It’s a classic and well-constructed quest story, and readers can watch their hero grow as the story unfolds. ~ Andrea Reece Skilful world-building and plotting make this a good book to recommend to fans of Holly Black.
Young children will find lots to laugh at in this jolly story of a little dragon who can’t help losing his temper, and they’ll learn ways to manage their own anger too. When Fergal gets cross, he really gets cross, and being a dragon this results in burned buns (he couldn’t wait to eat them), scorched suppers (he didn’t want the veg), goalposts burned to cinders (he really didn’t want to play in goal). It upsets his friends and it’s making him unhappy too. Fortunately Mum has a useful suggestion – take a breath and count to ten. It works, while Fergal’s friends have helpful tricks of their own too. Robert Starling’s illustrations are full of life and character, and this is very good for sharing. ~ Andrea Reece
If anyone can teach young people how to best understand themselves and their world it’s Gemma Cairney. There are lots of good self-help and advice books but Open Your Heart stands out because of Cairney’s honesty and because of her brilliant, direct voice. Reading it is like being in the same room as her and leaves you feeling more positive, more confident, readier to accept yourself for who you are. It’s divided into two sections: your heart, and your body and soul, and covers topics from family and friends to body image, sex and sexual health. Information is provided by experts, often in the form of interviews by Gemma, all interspersed with her own knowledge and experiences, as well as what she’s learned as Radio 1 agony aunt. A properly invaluable book. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: dark, spellbinding fantasy from a master of the form Holly Black’s new series stars a girl caught between the human and the Faerie worlds. Jude was just a child when she witnessed the murder of her parents by Madoc, a Faerie lord. Madoc took Jude and her sisters back to Elfhame with him and brought them up as his own. Jude is reminded constantly of her position as an outsider and a rivalry with the arrogant Prince Cardan seems to offer the means to prove herself as she desperately wants; instead it leads her into a deadly court intrigue. Jude is a fascinating character, stubborn, brave, defined by her powerlessness and her obsession with finding power, and this is fantasy adventure at its brilliant, intelligent, thought-provoking best. Readers who enjoy The Cruel Prince must also read Philip Reeve’s Railhead books and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series. ~ Andrea Reece
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