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Not all great books come through big publishers. Check out some of our favourite indie books on the market.
Heidi and her friend, Adele go on a short trip to Seville and take their cat Vince with them. We are taken around the city and shown the usual tourist sites and do the usual tourist activities. It's a sort of youngsters travel book. Quite a bit of Spanish is spoken when in conversation with the locals, and I was pleased and relieved to see, at the back of the book, a translation of all the phrases. This is a great book for children learning Spanish at primary or early secondary school level. It's well set out in a situation type story and the illustrations show clearly the types of buildings and street scenes we would see in Seville. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Beautifully written, The Unnamed Beast is a story of courage, friendship, strength and hope. When a fire breaks out, and starts to destroy the Wood, the unnamed beast is upset to see his beloved home on fire, but when he finds out from a Badger, that it's a dragon, he thinks it's his fault, and he is responsible for the destruction, after being told this isn't so, and so he decided to confront the Dragon and put a stop to it, as he starts on his journey, he meets other creatures of the wood, and friendships to start to form. I found this book had a touch of Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and Julia Donaldson. Throughout, the story was enriched with illustrations and I think that The Unnamed Beast could easily become a children's classic. The story was told beautifully with the use of rhyme and I can see that it will have the readers smiling and children laughing as they follow the unnamed beast on his journey. Angela Rhodes, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The story follows little Turtus as he hatches and makes his way towards the sea along with the other little turtles. However, he does not feel that he is like his brothers and sisters and this is confirmed as his journey continues. Eventually, he encounters his mother who explains that his father was in fact a giant land tortoise and assures him that he will meet him one day. This is a charming picture book using an effective, fairly natural and simple rhyme format which tends to appeal to young children. The illustrations are varied and appealing and match the text extremely well. Intrigue draws us in at the onset with the mystery of what is a 'Turtus' and reappears at the end of the tale when the reader is left with the expectation of eventually meeting Turtus' father in the next book. The story is also effective on other levels with its educational value and as an introduction to the fact that we are all different and can have a variety of different family situations. My granddaughter is 7 and really enjoyed this story and wants to know what happens next! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
With an engaging rhyming text that’s ideal for reading aloud, this picture book is a warm-hearted way for Muslim pre-schoolers and those of infants school age to understand and celebrate what it means to be Muslim. It would also make a great tool for teachers and parents to introduce all children to the principles of the faith. It’s underpinned by a warm message of inclusivity – “we don't all look the same”, Muslims are “different colours, shapes and sizes” – and accompanied by soft, fuzzy illustrations of all kinds of toddlers enjoying each others company in harmony and a spirit of kindness.
In 'The Traveller's Stone', S.J.Howland has created a wondrous fantasy world, inhabited by the creatures of myth and fairy tale. Any fan of J.K.Rowling, C.S.Lewis or Philip Pullman will immediately feel at home in this fantastical place called Haven. Haven is a world parallel to ours, where giants, fairies, hobgoblins, fauns and brownies co-exist, more or less amicably, alongside humans. Amongst the humans, it is only the Travellers who are gifted with the ability to pass between the two worlds. The book recounts the story of Xander King, a 14-year-old Londoner, who is transported to Haven by a Traveller's stone in the British Museum. But why has he ended up there? Is he really supposed to save this ailing, alien world from both external and internal attack, when he has no knowledge of it's history or culture, where he doesn't feel he can belong? This is a classic rite of passage story, well written and beautifully describing the feelings and emotions Xander goes through as he faces no end of trials to gain his place in this multifaceted society before returning home, a much stronger and more confident person. I really enjoyed reading this novel and was so pleased to discover that this will not be the end of Xander's adventures. 'The Traveller's Stone' is only the first of a planned series of five books and I personally can't wait for the next one in 2020. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Written for children but will appeal to young adults and adult readers also. The author tells the story of two differing boys and what brings them together, they both have an interest in habitats and badgers living in a wood near to where they live. It shows how friendship is important regardless of status or where they have come from. I found myself in the treehouse whilst the boys looked into the badgers and the beautifully drawn illustrations added to this. The author writes well and has a great understanding of nature and the natural world, and I literally could not put the book down and boy was there an ending. Moralistic which again will apply to both young adults and grown-ups. Recommended read. Jane Brown, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This first book in the Yin Yangs Odyssey series is a kaleidoscope of emotion and outlandish adventure. Eleven-year-old Freddie isn’t “exactly Mr Popular at the secondary school he attended,” which is no surprise given that his dad is “not only a science teacher but also the new deputy headmaster”. But it’s not long before feeling like an outsider is the least of his problems… When his dad doesn’t return from a trip to Egypt, Freddie is sent deeper into limbo. While left in the care of his tyrannical Nanny Maureen (a woman who reminds him “of that grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine), a strange mullet-haired alien being materialises in his room: “It could have easily been mistaken as human, but it wasn’t. The skin was a cold ice blue. Its eyes were twice as big as any man’s and radiated a piercing red.” The alien comes in peace, though and transports Freddie to planet Modeerf where he makes new friends and embarks on a voyage of discovery that might just lead him to work out where his dad has gone. With plenty of high-stakes hijinks and peppered with humour, this is a pacey blend of alien adventure and real-life emotion. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Picco Puppy Loves Football' is a simply written tale about a puppy who finds things difficult, doesn't give up and who's perseverance is rewarded by success in the end. It is written in a way that small children will be able to understand. There is a suggestion in the introduction that Picco faces specific challenges which make keeping going more difficult for him but these adversities are left vague, allowing the readers to apply the message of the book in all circumstances. The illustrations are clear and uncomplicated, portraying a diverse collection of characters; I think they will appeal to small children - as will the charming story. Jane Welby, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Suspenseful YA spy thriller that throngs with gaming, guts and deadly risks. Teenager Jack is up to his neck in trouble. His brother is about to be imprisoned for a crime Jack plotted and, on top of that, a secret agency is using this intelligence to force him to join them. Jack’s mission? To infiltrate the manufacturer of a hot new game to discover what’s really going on there. Caught between more than a few rocks and hard places, Jack is forced to make a near impossible decision. While the premise is strong and the story packed with action, the tendency to over-wordiness and repetitive descriptions slow down the plot in places. Having said that, there’s enough pace-turning peril to recommend it to fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond.
This is a very heartwarming story about friendship. Mimi is very shy and doesn't like to speak to people. She loves to go for walks with her Nana, but when she stops to talk to her friends, Mimi hides behind her Nana. She notices that when they leave the people that her Nana has spoken to, they seem to be sad. She doesn't understand why. Her friends, Tulu and Lulu, invite her to the playground. She goes with them but wants to talk instead of playing. She explains how sad everyone seemed after they spoke to her Nana. They said, “sometimes nice words can make someone's moods much better, like saying HELLO.” Tutu suggests Mimi uses “BRAVE MAGIC”. She finds a twig which becomes a magic wand and says “1,2,3, 1,2,3, that's brave magic.” Try it and see what happens. She tried it first with Mr Mole. It worked. She tried it again and it worked again, but she forgot to use the Brave Magic. From then on, she was able to speak to everyone she met. When she tells her Nana, she gets a big hug and is told how very proud her Nana is of her and her Brave Magic. This book shows how friendship can help encourage us to do things that frighten us. With the help of friends, we can do anything. The illustrations are exceptional in this book. The colours are so vibrant. Diana Mason, A LoveReading Ambassador
Who needs gritty, dark psychological thriller when you can curl up in your armchair with your furry companions and read a cosy murder mystery especially one where a feisty Scottish wildcat pits his superior feline wits against a delightfully wicked murderer in the rugged heart of the Scottish Highlands?
This action-packed blend of magical fantasy with classic kids’ adventuring is a swashbuckling read for 8+ year-olds, peppered with soft line-drawings and propelled by a strong sense of urgency. Siblings Finn (the narrator) and Aria, and their smuggler dad are undertaking a voyage aboard their home, a boat called Alcina. Their dad has to pick up a parcel, but this time they’re charting an unknown course. “This new route is dangerous”, Finn observes and, what’s more, they’re journeying to New London, a place that’s been “enclosed by the high stone city walls since the Last War”, a place “strangers are forbidden to enter”. And they are strangers… When they reach a port and Dad heads off to collect the parcel, Finn and Aria also go ashore (against Dad’s wishes) to explore the bustling bazaar where a mysterious vendor issues them with a grave warning. Then, soon after, Finn learns the shocking truth of his true identity as “a child born with the clan magic in their blood”, as a Sea-tamer, and so an elemental tale of ancient lore and magic unfolds as the family are pursued by a warlord with the weight of saving civilisation on their shoulders.
The Devil’s Apprentice is a fantasy novel written from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old boy who finds himself in hell – literally. It’s an adventure story with a twisty mystery to solve, with some innocent early-teen romance and historical references as well. It’s the first book in The Great Devil War series. The book is very well written and well translated from Danish, with plenty of dark humour. It features impressive world building through vivid imagery, and I enjoyed visualising the author’s clever concept of Hell and its occupants. The Devil’s Apprentice reminded me of the Harry Potter series, as the plot is complex enough to satisfy teenagers and adults (of all ages), yet simple enough to entertain pre-teens. It covers some moralistic themes, including good versus evil, knowing right from wrong and that even the most angelic people can have a dark side, so its suitability will depend on a child’s maturity. As expected, the book focuses mainly on death, with a mention of suicide and punishment/redemption in the afterlife. Some adults may disagree with certain concepts, but the book would provide a good starting point for discussions. I’m not surprised The Devil’s Apprentice is a popular series in Denmark and I can see it potentially doing well in the UK too. I found it highly compelling and raced through it. As soon as I finished, I eagerly looked forward to the next one, which is always a sign of an enjoyable read.