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Twice winner of the Carnegie Medal, Berlie Doherty is one of our finest writers for young people and Deep Secret is a beautifully told story of people, place, changing times and lasting memories. At its heart are two young girls, identical twins Grace and Madeleine, but it’s just as much the story of their community, the people of a small Derbyshire village. It’s 1945, a time of change for the whole country but particularly for the characters in the book: the valley in which they live is to be flooded for a reservoir and they must all leave their homes. Even before the waters arrive, stories float to the surface and we learn so much about the people of the valley and their history. It’s a wonderfully touching description of a lost way of life, and when a tragic event occurs drama and pain follows before finally acceptance and understanding. This is the kind of story that resonates with readers long after the final page, and highly recommended.
October, 1916. Clara is sent to stay with her formidable aunt and uncle in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers that her new surroundings hold secrets: a locked room and a hidden key, and a mysterious boy who only appears in the gardens at night... But can Clara face up to her own secrets, and a war she's desperate to forget?
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | A fast-paced read packed with historical detail In the Shadow of Heroes is a clever blend of intrigue, politics, crime, history and a bit of fantasy. Set in Rome at the time of Emperor Nero, it weaves some Greek mythology – the tale of the Golden Fleece – into the world of the Roman elite. When unexpected visitors turn up at Tullus’s house one night, his slave Cadmus, an educated boy slave who was taken in by Tullus after having been abandoned as a baby, knows that something dangerous is afoot. The visitors bring a box with something that is clearly very desirable in it. What can it be? When Tullus disappears and Cadman is given a message by a slave who was formerly a British princess he set off on a trail to find out what is going on. The plot is twisty and inventive ensuring that the reader remains enthralled through out.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | Elizabeth Wein’s thrilling new World War II story stars a young Polish pilot – a female one. Kristina Tomiak and her twin brother are members of the White Eagles, Poland’s air force, and at the forefront of their country’s resistance when the Nazis invade. Things quickly turn bad and Kristina is forced to flee in her RWD-8 plane, together with an unexpected passenger. As she makes her escape, her destination changes until finally she is heading towards England. The story is full of excitement and gives readers a broad yet detailed understanding of those early days of the war, and of flying a plane too. Published by Barrington Stoke this is written to be accessible to all readers including those with dyslexia but I recommend it to any reader fascinated by history and the brave individuals who make it.
What might it be like to live surrounded by clocks? Lots of clocks, so that when they all strike you need to cover your ears whilst all their bongs and trills happen. Set in Edwardian Cambridge this is the story of Helena, her Parrot, Orbit, and her father who is employed to keep all the clocks in the house going, the clocks must not stop, or else Helena and her father will lose everything they own. As Helena settles into this new home, she realises that the owner, Mr Westcott, is obsessed by the clocks, there are strange happenings in the house, and glimpses of a strange history to the place. Will Helena and her father get to the bottom of the problems here, or will they lose all their possessions because a clock is allowed to stop? On the surface this is a delightfully odd and slightly sinister story with much to be uncovered as the story develops. It is also an exploration of grief and the strange thoughts that can obsess people after a close bereavement. But the overwhelming message is that friendship, love, empathy and memory are vital to everyone, no matter how strange they may seem. The friendship and caring exhibited between child characters in the story wins out over what seem like insurmountable odds – for a very satisfactory conclusion.
A gripping historical adventure by a much-loved and award winning author. Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Stranger Things' Noah Schnapp. It is World War II and Jo stumbles on a dangerous secret: Jewish children are being smuggled away from the Nazis, close to his mountain village in Spain. Now, German soldiers have been stationed at the border. Jo must get word to his friends that the children are trapped. The slightest mistake could cost them their lives.
From No. 1 bestselling children's author, David Walliams comes his biggest and most epic adventure yet! Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross. This is the story of a ten-year-old orphan and a 10,000-year-old mammoth... Read all about it! Read all about it! ICE MONSTER FOUND IN ARCTIC! When Elsie, an orphan on the streets of Victorian London, hears about the mysterious Ice Monster - a woolly mammoth found at the North Pole - she's determined to discover more... A chance encounter brings Elsie face to face with the creature, and sparks the adventure of a lifetime - from London to the heart of the Arctic! Heroes come in all different shapes and sizes in David Walliams' biggest and most epic adventure yet!
Flamingo Boy is vintage Michael Morpurgo, just the kind of story he tells so brilliantly. Eighteen-year old Vincent is ‘following the bend in the road’, letting life take him where it will, and finds himself in the wild and beautiful landscape of the Camargue. There he meets Kezia and Renzo and, as they nurse him through a fever, hears their life stories. Vincent hangs on every word and readers will too as Kezia describes the events that brought her and Renzo together, and the threats and dangers their families faced during the war. It’s a story of love, loss, renewal and reconciliation, vividly told and touching on important issues that matter to every one of us. Inspired by his own grandson, who is autistic, Renzo, the boy with a special connection to nature and animals, is one of Morpurgo’s most striking and vital characters.
'The Adventures of Tempus and Fugit' by Tom McCulloch is a fun and informative story in pictures, telling us about two young boys, Tempus and Fugit, (who look and act older than their stated ages) who live in an unspecified time in the future with their personal robot, Digi Dog. In this short adventure, Digi Dog builds the boys a time-travelling air balloon and they all set off first for Ancient Egypt then Ancient Rome. Their aim is to find out more about how time was measured in those far off times. In Egypt, they are introduced to the sundial and in Rome, the water clock. The illustrations are very colourful and have the modern feel of a graphic novel, though the author doesn't make use of speech bubbles, and I think it works very well in imparting the basics of these two types of time measurement in ancient civilisations in an effortless way. I would have loved more detail about each of the timepieces but readers who have their curiosity aroused can easily find out more and may even be inspired to make their own 'clocks'. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone else. The opening in which she cascades into the story world is as exhilaratingly bewildering as Alice’s entry to Wonderland: “Down she falls. Oh, how the world has tumbled.” Why does everyone think she’s a gifted dancer called Maria? Why can’t everyone see her? And so an intricate, suspenseful tale of identity plays out as Celeste struggles to untangle the truth, with dreadfully high stakes. Gardner’s cast of larger-than-life characters is vibrantly drawn, and special mention must be made of vindictive diva Madame Sabina and her awful daughter, and Celeste’s ally Viggo. But the true star of this production is - of course – Celeste, whose resolve is adeptly expressed through the thoughts of the mysterious man in the emerald suit: “Seldom has he met a child with strength enough to move on to the final part of the game.” This is a dream of a book for confident readers who relish fiction that ignites their imaginations and delight in flexing their cerebral muscles.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. .......................... Emma Carroll brings her own Somerset countryside vividly to life in this enthralling tale and you can even detect the West Country tones of her spirited young heroine, Fortune Spicer, as you read. Fair Maidens Lane, where she lives, is a successful hamlet running well, despite an absence of men. But as the story opens a matriarch is arrested. An atmosphere of suspicion is spreading across the land from King James’ obsession with witches and unscrupulous men are using this as a weapon for financial gain. Sent away by her mother, disguised as a boy for her own protection, Fortune ends up as a servant at Barrow Hall only to find a master even more against witches than the king, but also happy to exploit the opportunity to raise funds for a terrible new trade in human beings. When the natural disaster overtakes them all, Fortune survives, but must fight torture and a trial for witchcraft to prove she is not to blame for the flood. The claustrophobic atmosphere of male oppression, corruption and real menace is wonderfully well done, and Fortune is a redoubtable heroine learning to have faith in herself and to seek her own destiny. As with all her novels this author wears her research lightly but provides a genuine learning experience and a genuine feeling for the period and for the characters she brings so memorably to life. Joy Court
Carnegie winner Ruta Sepetys seems to specialise in illuminating forgotten or unknown aspects of history. The Spanish Civil War may be widely known but Spain lived under Franco until 1975. Rather like post-Apartheid South Africa there was a reconciliation movement that did not pursue retribution for the human rights abuses and crimes of the dictatorship. But this outstanding, impeccably researched novel seeks to shine a light on those crimes. In a fascinating afterword she tells us that studies estimate over 300,000 babies were stolen from their Republican parents. This is indeed a story to shock and horrify but its power comes from the characters and the very human stories she tells. We get different perspectives from different viewpoints and voices, but very cleverly our main guide is an outsider looking in just as the reader does. Daniel is an American boy visiting Spain as his father negotiates a lucrative deal. America’s complicit dealings with the Franco regime are also under the spotlight here. Daniel aspires to be a photojournalist and he naively wants to find the real Spain. He finds fear and suspicion, makes friends and falls in love but tragedy strikes, and he must leave. The full sinister picture is only revealed many years later. This is a book which absolutely demonstrates the power of a story to reveal truth and to develop real understanding and empathy. Perfectly pitched, evocative and utterly enthralling.
Episode by Tracey Morait is a fanciful re-imagining of the story of Helen of Troy. It is also an attempt to show just what it's like to experience an 'episode', that is an epileptic seizure. The story brings together some well-known characters from the world of Ancient Greece - Helen, Menelaus, Paris, Hector and, of course, the 'meddlesome' gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus - with Alisha, a 13-year-old from the present day and Travis from a terrifying England at the end of the 21st century. The action switches between these three time zones, which Ali and Travis are able to access by time travel through portals, which come into being at the time of their seizures, as both are epileptic. The author paints a very realistic picture of life in Ancient Greece, a life Alisha finds very distasteful when catapulted there from a family summer holiday in Cyprus, as she is dressed, smells and is expected to behave as a slave girl. Her outrage and contempt for the system, especially the treatment of women, rubs off on Helen and the story then takes on a very different twist. The terror from Travis' time also comes into play when destructive entities access the portals and rewrite the events of the Trojan War, until the combined ingenuity of Travis and the gods (particularly Chronos, god of Time) finally set the records straight. I really enjoyed this book, it rekindled my interest in Greek mythology. It's an exciting fusion of legend and science fiction, with the added medical theme, which, as my granddaughter is epilectic, I also found fascinating. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Reading Planet - Votes for Women - Level 8: Fiction (Supernova) | Votes for Women is included in the Rising Stars Reading Planet reading scheme at the Red+ level. The book is a fictionalised version of events leading to the suffrage of women in 1918. The main protagonists in the book are Alice, a keen member of the suffragette movement, and her younger sister Rose, who whilst interested in the prospect of votes for women, is less certain about the approaches used to gain attention for the cause. Composed of diary extracts, letters and a third-person narrative, the story is engaging and also enables the reader to appreciate the complexity of the issues from the perspective of different characters. As with all books in the series, there is a set of comprehension questions asking readers to retrieve key information; to consider the meaning and effectiveness of vocabulary; and to evaluate the actions of characters at different points of the narrative. Further research prompts are also provided, ensuring that pupils have the opportunity to extend and apply their understanding of the text. Whilst a fascinating read in its own right, the book offers opportunities to understand the effect of key aspects of British history, such as the impact of World War I on the movement for women’s suffrage, making it a valuable addition to the school history collection.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2019 | | Sally Nicholls has a rare ability to tell a story from the past by making it both of its time and also accessible for today’s readers. Her characters are always credible people facing up to the great challenges of the day while her details of the period make her settings authentic too. Here, she takes a moment in history when the world was completely changed because of the number of people who died: 1349, the year of the Black Death. Thirteen year old Isobel tells her story, shying away from no details as she describes what she sees as the Plague strikes her family and the whole tight knit community of the Yorkshire village where she lives. Sally Nicholls pulls no punches in her telling of this dramatic story.
Christina is sent to stay with her terrifying uncle and her cousins at Flambards, a rambling house in the country where riding and hunting are the most prized activities. Everything about the countryside - and her relatives - is new to Christina but she soon finds she loves riding. And, in different ways, she begins to love her cousins. The first volume in a hugely romantic trilogy.
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