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Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | From the author of Fall Out, Gut Feelings is a powerful autobiographical novel-in-verse charting a boy’s life-changing operation at the age of eleven through to his hopeful young adulthood as a gay man. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sarah Crossan and Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo, it’s both beautifully written and easy to read, with an impactful, unsentimental voice. There’s no self-pity here, despite the harrowing nature of what he endures. Diagnosed with FAP (Familial adenomatous polyposis, a rare genetic condition in which a person develops precancerous polyps in the large intestine), Chris must have a total colectomy. His state of fear, isolation and loneliness is palpable as he describes the enemas and bedsores, and the morphine which evaporates his “maelstrom of fears, failures, social pressures”. Recovering in hospital, well-meaning visitors “have no idea what it’s like/To be confined to this prison, Bars lining the windows, Double glazing boxing me in - These familiar faces have/No idea how to reach me”. Then, once home, he feels abandoned: “The surgery has fixed me - I’m no longer worthy/Of attention and support.” And this isn’t the first time Chris has experienced adversity, for alongside the direct, detached exposition of his present-day existence, we learn of Chris’s troubled background - the father who had a debilitating stroke, the school peers who bullied him. Then, in time, through the darkest of days, comes a turning point when he realises that “Some will accept me, Some will reject me/But I must learn to love myself Because I am done with fitting in” and he shifts towards renewal and hope - “I’ll keep writing, Keep learning/Until I am/Free to embrace Who I am.” Illuminating on living with chronic invisible illness, this story lingers long in the soul, and special mention must go to the book’s design and layout, with letters and words perfectly positioned as visual markers of emotional states.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 | May 2020 Debut of the Month | Winner of the Stonewall Book Award | Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2020 | Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.
A boy with a special talent, a girl transformed into a rat by magic, and a fire-breathing young dracogriff (half dragon, half griffin) – three friends, three unlikely heroes! In S A Patrick’s sparkling fantasy adventure they face sorcerers, bandits, imprisonment and mercenary armies, plus betrayal by the people they should be able to trust the most, and they face them all with courage, loyalty to each other and humour. Their arch enemy is the legendary Pied Piper no less, supposedly imprisoned for what he did in Hamelyn, but actually free and planning more wickedness against humans and dragons alike. It’s a story full of adventure and excitement, as well as characters readers will root for from the first – and best of all, there’s a sequel! Readers who enjoy Patch, Wren and Barver’s adventures will also enjoy Abi Elphinstone’s Rumblestar series and Michelle Harrison’s Widdershins Adventures.
As proved in her hugely popular Dreamsnatcher series, Abi Elphinstone understands exactly what young readers want in the way of magical adventure and Rumblestar, the first instalment of a new series, should make them very happy indeed. The new Unmapped Chronicles start with a ‘what if’ - specifically what if our climate was actually created magically in another world linked to ours? When Casper Tock finds himself in just such a world, all he wants is to escape but it’s his destiny to stand against the villainous Morg to safeguard his home. In this he has a wonderfully spiky companion, a girl called Utterly Thankless, and a whole host of dangers to confront. The adventures keep coming and Elphinstone’s imagination seems boundless while she’s clearly thinking too about the climate challenges we face in the real world. Great stuff, and a real treat for young readers.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | The first in a hilarious and fast-paced trilogy about how to be brave, what it means to be a hero and just how confusing the Norse Gods really are. Fully illustrated throughout, Cat Weldon's How to Be a Hero is perfect for fans of How to Train Your Dragon and Who Let the Gods Out.
Oh my goodness, this is a rollicking good debut from Maz Evans. Who Let The Gods Out is a super, funny adventure story that will have kids reading long past their bedtime, and has now been added two with more in the series. Poor Elliot is having a very tough time. His mum is poorly, they have serious money problems, a devilishly devious interfering neighbour and school is quite simply a complete nightmare! So the last thing Elliot needs is for a conceited constellation to crash land smack, bang in the middle of his cow shed. Suddenly feisty, fearless Virgo enters his life with ‘a damp, loud splat.’ Together they manage to set free a dangerous and incredibly evil Daemon of Death and before long it is down to Elliot to save the world. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate! This book is laugh out loud hilarious and I just adored each and every character. Elliot is brave and good hearted and going through such a hard time. The Gods were hilarious and I love how Maz has made them so quirky, fallible and bang up to date. There is also a rather special appearance from her Majesty the Queen that was quite simply magnificent. Who Let The Gods Out is the first in a four part series and I for one am very excited to see what happens next for Elliot and his new friends. ~ Shelley Fallows A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher ‘What I like about the classical gods is that they are so true to life. Wild, naughty, emotional and unpredictable, they carry on a bit like us humans – but with superpowers! Of course, in this story our hero Elliot has some serious real life problems to deal with too, and so Maz Evans takes us on a funny yet thoughtful romp. Hold on to your pants because you are likely to lose everything else!’ Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month Books in The Who Let The Gods Out? Series: 1. Who Let The God's Out? 2. Simply The Quest 3. Beyond the Odyssey 4. Against All Gods
January 2021 Debut of the Month | Some readers will already be familiar with robot Freddy, who stars in Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros cartoon strip, but everyone will find masses to enjoy in this new series. Freddy’s robot superpowers include the ability to fly, use lasers and super-strength but none of these talents are appreciated by the teachers at the primary school he attends and indeed, after he accidentally flies through the staffroom window, the head introduces a robotic code of conduct which forbids all of the above, with a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ penalty clause too. Freddy tries, he really does, but it’s not easy being the only robot in his class. Plus, his friend Fernando has lots of ideas for games that lead to trouble, and then when the two fall out, Freddy finds himself partnered with someone who instigates even more bad behaviour. The inevitable third strike comes at the school’s Project Outcome Evening but Freddy gets one amazing last chance to put his Awesome Robotic Abilities to the use for which they were intended. This action-packed story is wildly funny and school life brilliantly well observed (I love Freddy’s long-suffering human parents too). Through it all, Freddy is learning about himself and his friends, and readers will be too. With cartoon illustrations by Cameron on every page even the most reluctant reader will race through this. Superb! David Almond’s latest book Brand New Boy also uses a robot story to explore ideas of understanding, acceptance and human nature.
There are some excellent series for young readers at the moment: Amelia Fang, the Royal Rabbits of London, Isadora Moon, and now Mermaid School. Marnie Blue is worried about her first day at Mermaid School, for all the usual reasons: will she make friends? will the teachers be very strict? When she arrives, it seems her teachers expect her to take after her aunt Christabel, now a famous singer and DJ, who was a right terror! And for some reason, fellow first year Orla seems to have it in for Marnie too. It’s all a lot more interesting than the average primary school, and Orla’s story in particular involves Marnie in a very exciting adventure. Very nicely told, and the underwater world is enticing; young readers won’t be able to put this down.
The trials and tribulations of a disastrous new girl at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches a gloriously witchy boarding school, The Worst Witch has magic galore. Unfortunately for Mildred Hubble, most of it has a habit of going badly wrong. Her broomstick won’t fly straight, her cat is tabby not black and she manages to turn her arch-enemy into a toad. Nice short chapters with stunning illustrations also by Jill Murphy make this a perfect first reader. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Worst Witch a small number of children were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'Mildred Hubble chews on her plaits, wears her hat back to front and her shoe laces trail on the floor. She is worst witch in her school but it isn't her fault. ' - Jemima Foyster. Scroll down to read the full review...
Sophie is the odd one out at school and even in her family. Not only is she super-smart with a photographic memory, but she can read minds too. So when she discovers she’s not actually human, strange as that is, things suddenly start to make sense. With a new friend, Fitz, also not human, she travels to another world to discover more about who she really is. Meanwhile, in the human world, strange fires are causing terrible problems – can Sophie help? And even in her new home, she’s in danger, thanks to the mysterious secrets buried in her memories. A riveting story that will really appeal to fans of magic, adventure and mystery.
This new edition of the classic and internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning series feature instantly pick-up-able new jackets by Jonny Duddle, with huge child appeal, to bring Harry Potter to the next generation of readers. A world of magical adventure awaits! Visit Bloomsbury's Harry Potter website for magical downloads, games, videos, and more Harry Potter fun!
It’s headmistress Mrs Bottomley-Blunt who declares 4B to be LITERALLY the Worst Class In The World, and she may have a point. After all, there was the school trip to the zoo when Harvey Barlow smuggled a penguin back on the bus, the time they tried to tunnel to Finland, and the Show and Tell incident with Manjit’s dog, Killer… Everyone has bad luck though, and after reading this very funny book, most people will agree with Stanley Bradshaw and decide they wouldn’t have 4B any other way. Stanley’s descriptions of their antics, recounted in two separate stories, are highly entertaining: Joanna Nadin captures the chaos and excitement of primary school perfectly, and young readers will recognise the setting and the characters, not least long-suffering teacher Mr Nidgett. Short sentences, lots of pictures and clever repetition of words and phrases plus the lively action make this a perfect first chapter book. One to recommend to fans of Patricia Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series ready to move onto something more challenging.
5-7 years. Horrid Henry is the ultimate irresistible bad boy! His mean ways are completely alluring as he sums up the desperate wanting in all readers. So much so that no one will waste much sympathy on his goody-goody brother Perfect Pete! Three suitably titled stories, Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb, Horrid Henry’s Underpants and Horrid Henry Meets the Queen are bound together in this satisfyingly fat volume.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | January 2020 Debut of the Month | Nizrana Farook sets her story on the island of Serendib, now known as Sri Lanka, and transports readers to a vivid, larger-than-life world where young people can be bold, true and have some extraordinary adventures. Twelve-year old Chaya is a thief with a heart of gold, stealing from the king’s palace to help those in her village. She makes a mistake when she takes jewels from the queen’s bedroom though, triggering a series of events that leads to Chaya and two friends, villager Neel and merchant’s daughter Nour, fleeing into the rainforest on the king’s elephant. There are brushes with death, but great camaraderie too and it all ends with a much-needed righting of wrongs. Great stuff! Readers swept up in Chaya’s story – and who couldn’t be? – will also enjoy Costa Book Award winner Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan.
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | Debut of the Month January 2020 | Winner of the 2017 Time/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Rich in drama, and suffused in the spirituality and atmosphere of the author’s native Northern Punjab, Jasbinder Bilan’s debut is a delightful, hope-bathed treat for 9+ year-olds. With money tight, Asha’s father has gone to the big city to work in a factory, having promised to send money home, and to return to their village in the Himalayan foothills for Diwali. But when the money stops arriving and her mum runs into trouble with a lender, Asha makes a big, brave decision: she will cross the world’s highest mountains to find her father. Accompanied by best friend Jeevan, and with the magical, protective presence of her nanijee – her grandmother’s spirit bird – Asha sets out on a truly transformative journey of a lifetime. Along the way, the friends encounter dangerous beasts of the animal and human kind, but they never give up hope, with Asha’s infectious sense of justice, self-belief and spirituality keeping them firmly fixed on their goal. This is perfect for fans of the Himalayas-set Running on the Roof of the World and the adventure stories of Eva Ibbotson and Katherine Rundell.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Awards 2021, Best Story | “Numbers are great, they make sense - unlike people. You’d think this if you lived with my family.” So Anisha sets the scene for the madcap mystery that unfolds in the chaotic run-up to her Aunty Bindi’s epic wedding. Anisha loves her “sparkly” Aunty Bindi, but it’s not easy being bridesmaid to such a flamboyant figure, especially when she’s on the verge of having a “mega meltdown”! Matters take a scarier turn when Anisha finds a ransom note announcing that Tony, Bindi’s fiancé, has been kidnapped and the wedding must be called off if they want to see him again. “Why did I have to be the one who found the note?” she laments. “I DON’T LIKE DRAMA!” But, in order to prevent her already frazzled family from spiraling into further chaos, Anisha decides to find Tony herself, with the help of her best friend Milo. A hilarious race against time ensues, with clues to pursue, undercover surveillance to be done and the involvement of some decidedly curious characters (among them a weeing lobster), and the menace of Anisha’s “evil” cousins-to-be. The story shimmers with the vibrant exuberance of an Indian wedding, the special warmth of family and friends, and action-packed amusement. Special mention must go to the informative (and funny) footnotes that explain Indian food, customs and language referred to in the story, and to Emma McCann’s energetic illustrations. April 2020 Debut of the Month Books in the Anisha, Accidental Detective Series: 1. Anisha, Accidental Detective 2. School's Cancelled
February 2020 Debut of the Month | The Bigwoof Conspiracy is a monstrously amusing mash-up of Scooby Doo and The Twilight Zone - think Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud with added farcical fun.Quirky UFO-obsessed Lucy is an inspirational, one-of-a-kind heroine who unapologetically follows her own path and won’t stop until the truth is exposed. And Lucy’s search for the truth behind the hairy beast she spies in the woods lies at the heart of this madcap adventure. On this same night Lucy meets Milo, a smartly-dressed boy from the city whose dad is the new owner of the Sticky Sweet factory her own dad works at.When a teacher disappears and she and Milo step-up their quest to secure photographic evidence of hairy Bigwoof, Lucy winds up in big trouble, while pondering even bigger questions. Why did Milo’s dad delete his photo of the hairy beast? Why are folk disappearing from Sticky Pines? And what’s the deal with the factory’s creepy clown henchmen? There’s definitely something fishy going on and Lucy won’t rest until she’s found the source of the stink! I loved Lucy’s tenacious commitment to truth (“I require that the world not run on lies”), her ingenious curse vocabulary (including “Crudberries!” and “Oh, for the love of Björk!”), and the book’s “do the right thing” theme. Bursting with comic capers, this comes especially recommended for reluctant readers who’ve lost their reading mojo.
The bestselling author of Holes tells a cracking new story in Fuzzy Mud featuring some truly terrifying genetically modified mud. When Marshall takes a short cut home to avoid being beaten up by Chad, the school bully who has been ruining his life for the past few weeks, he makes the worst decision of his life. Marshall heads into the woods even though he knows it is forbidden. Tamaya has no choice but to follow. After all, they have walked to and from school together every day for the past three years and she is not allowed to walk home alone. But when Chad pursues them the three discover exactly why the woods are out of bounds. Hideously damaged by the peculiar mud that lies deep in the woods what hope do they have of survival? And will they always be enemies? ~ Julia Eccleshare
Kesia Lupo's We Are Bound By Stars is a fine follow-up to We Are Blood and Thunder, a richly-realised fantasy epic in which intrigue, trickery and powerful gifts from the gods throng through a cast of colourfully compelling characters. If you’re a fan of female-fronted fantasy, of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J. Maas, this series is sure to be your chalice of char. Beatrice is one of three female mask-makers in the kingdom of the Wishes, a cluster of volcanic islands ruled by a Contessa. As a result of a secret pact the Contessa made with Mythris, patron god of the Wishes, the chosen triplet mask-makers are taught to create masks with powers that aid “the Contessa in discovering and destroying her enemies”, as long as the chain of inheritance remains intact. As a middle sister, Beatrice makes Grotesques, masks that “draw power from expression”, creations with the power to manipulate emotions, but she’s desperate to flee this life of bondage. Then there’s Livio, born into a powerful family, destined to be the first male leader in aeons, but his magic is overwhelmingly wild. When his path collides with Beatrice’s, it falls to them to prevent devastating insurgency, as menacing masked assassins close in on their heels. Can they cut the strings of a controlling puppet master? Can they change the course of destiny? As their tales twist along a troubled path, the sense of time running out, of high-stakes decisions, of human emotions are grippingly evoked within a tangled web of magical trickery.
In the final episode of the powerful and all-consuming The Grisha sequence, Alina has one last chance to destroy the Darkling. To do so she needs to find the firebird. She must also decide whether her loyalties are to Mal or whether she must break that link. ~ Julia Eccleshare
April 2020 Book of the Month | Twelve-year-old Ross is dealt a devastating blow when he’s told he has an extremely rare form of eye cancer and is likely to lose sight in both eyes. Based on author Rob Harrell’s personal experience of eye cancer, and spiced with his cool comic-strips of Ross’s Battbutt and Batpig characters, Wink has all the freshness and pitch-perfect narrative voice of a Louis Sachar story, with its own unique warmth and wit.As Ross struggles with the strangeness of undergoing immediate radiation treatment, he also faces a terrible time at school. Cruelly called the “Cancer Cowboy” on account of having to wear a hat, he’s also the subject of malicious memes. While Ross’s personal plight is at the huge heart of this novel, it’s equally as powerful in its portrayal of the wider impact of devastating diagnoses, most poignantly when Ross’s friend Isaac distances himself from their Oreo-sealed friendship pact. But as Isaac retreats, he makes life-changing new friends as a result of his treatment. First there’s fellow patient Jerry, a wise-cracking old guy who rebuffs Ross’s desire to be normal. According to Jerry, “Different moves the needle. Different is where the good stuff happens. There’s strength in difference.” Then there’s Frank, the adorable radiation tech guy who teaches Ross to play guitar, which has tear-jerkingly transformational effects.What an authentic, emotional, amusing and all-round awesome read this is.
Winner of the 'Best of the Best' children's category at the Independent Bookshop Week Awards 2016. Chosen by Stylist magazine as one of the Cult Books of 2012. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable. You can discuss what you think of this book on Twitter - #thewonderofwonder.
Ben Miller cleverly mixes real science and observations of real life into a mind-expanding story, and gives it something of the feel of a fable too. Harrison is generally a good boy, but he does have trouble with his temper. He loses it spectacularly at another boy’s birthday and, to make a point, the party entertainer sends him home with – wait for it – a black hole. It’s useful for getting rid of things he doesn’t like, but when he accidentally loses things that matter, he needs science, determination and the help of his family to put things right. The science is real enough to make us think it could happen, and the storytelling more than good enough to make us wish it had. If The Boy Who Made the World Disappear sparks a desire for more science based adventure, look out for books by Christopher Edge and Ross Welford.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award January 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: invisible girl finds herself in the spotlight | Ross Welford is making a habit of putting his characters in unusual situations: the star of his prize-shortlisted debut went time travelling, while Ethel, his new central character, unexpectedly becomes invisible, thanks to a mysterious Chinese herbal medicine and a second hand sun bed. Welford properly examines the impact of this invisibility on Ethel and, with one notable exception, the story is low on practical jokes, and high on the terrifying prospect of never being seen again. Ethel has other things to deal with too, including untangling family secrets to discover who she really is. In all this, she’s helped by new friend the irrepressible Boydy, who is determined to turn a spotlight on the situation – literally. Funny, touching and thoroughly original, Welford crafts another absorbing real-life adventure out of an extraordinary set-up. ~ Andrea Reece
Pre-schoolers will have lots of fun on Treacle Street, the setting for Kate Hindley’s new and very appealing lift-the-flap board book series. In this adventure, the residents are looking forward to a special show given by the little bunnies who attend Prima’s Dance School, but poor Prima Pavlova is worried: her star performers have all gone missing. Readers can help her find them by opening various flaps – there are bunnies under the cake cover, hiding in the dressing room wardrobe and – gloriously – inside the grand piano! Fortunately, they’re all in the right place when the curtain goes up. Kate Hindley’s characters are irresistible, and she creates a lovely sense of community for Treacle Street. These chunky board books and their sturdy flaps are perfect for little hands and there’s lots for little eyes to spot too.
A charming new title in this best-selling series from Axel Scheffler. Simple but incident-filled stories for two, three and four-year olds. A gently funny story about navigating friendship and being kind, even when every bone in your body is telling you to scream with frustration! The Editor at Nosy Crow says: “The dilemmas of this story are so human and so universal that everyone, young and old, can identify with Posy and the challenges she faces. It's a story about digging deep (emotionally, as well as literally, as it turns out) and learning to value what's important in life. All good lessons, whether you're three or 53.”
April 2020 Debut of the Month | Delving deep into Paris and Prague, and teeming with tension, automatons and assassins, Damien Love’s Monstrous Devices is an atmospheric, adventure-packed debut, which will surely appeal to fans of Jonathan Stroud’s immersive, multi-layered novels. Bookish twelve-year-old Alex’s story begins with him enduring nasty messages from bullies at school, and then he receives a tin robot in the post, accompanied by a mysterious message that reads, “This one is special”. Next morning, his unfinished essay has been completed and, on cue, as matters take an alarming turn, Alex’s charismatic grandfather appears and whisks him away to Paris as a matter of urgency. Little by little, and in cryptic terms, Alex’s grandfather reveals details of a secret world of robots that sees them journey from Paris to Prague to combat mechanical menaces. Interweaving the Czech origin of the word ‘robot’ (meaning ‘forced labour’ and derived from Karel Čapek’s ‘RUR’ play), and Prague’s 16th century legend of the golem (a man made from clay created to protect the city’s Jewish Quarter) with contemporary pace and punch, this feels at once timeless and of the 21st century.
One of our Books of the Year 2015 - Andrea Reeces's Pick of the Year 2015 - October 2015 Book of the Month Publication of a new Lockwood and Co adventure must qualify as one of the literary events of the year. Jonathan Stroud not only writes like a dream, he creates some of the most inventive, most exciting storylines around. Each Lockwood adventure raises the levels of tension, as plots thicken dangerously, and our affection for his teenage ghost hunters grows. In this story, there’s a terrifying outbreak of paranormal activity in Chelsea that leaves all the Psychic Investigation Agencies baffled. Can Lockwood & Co find the source? The appointment of a new assistant, the charming Holly, has introduced strains that weren’t there before, and after a shattering climax Stroud leaves the reader on a massive emotional cliffhanger. Book four can’t come soon enough! ~ Andrea Reece
If They Like...They'll Love
It's great when our children find an author or genre they love reading - but what to do when they've exhausted the series? In this category we will carefully match a selection of books or authors every month - not by a computer as they are on other online bookshops but in the traditional way by human hand and thought!
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