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It’s always worth taking time to gaze at Eric Carle’s wonderful illustrations and in this pocket-sized book they are used to help children develop mindfulness. When your mind feels busy, says the text, just stop and breathe; an illustration of Carle’s bright flowers and butterflies encourages just that. Simple instructions are presented alongside Carle’s invigorating illustrations, and the world does indeed feel better, more hopeful. A friendly and useful approach to learning a life skill that will benefit lots of children and adults. ~ Andrea Reece
June 2016 Debut of the Month Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she's falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out... Lovereading Review to follow...
In a Nutshell: Universe-expanding friendship • Trust • Anxiety disorder An uplifting coming-of-age novel about living with agoraphobia and the transformative power of true friendship. Solomon hasn't left his house for three years, not since the panic attack that saw him strip down to his boxers and jump into the school fountain. He spends all his time inside, reading and watching Star Trek. Lisa, the girl who beams into Solomon’s life like a ray of sunlight, couldn’t be more different. She’s outgoing, gets great grades, and is adored by her handsome athletic boyfriend, Clark. When Lisa has to write a paper on her experience of mental illness as part of her college application, she immediately thinks of Solomon. Determined to “fix" him, she writes a letter asking him to be her friend. Against expectation, and partly aided by his flamboyant grandmother promising to pay for the pool he’s long hoped for, Solomon agrees to let Lisa into his life. As things turn out, they’re both completely comfortable in each other’s company, and Solomon soon feels ready to broaden his world further by meeting Clark, with whom he bonds over their shared geekery. But, as Solomon takes his first steps into the outside world, their three-way friendship is put under strain when Lisa begins to question her relationship with Clark, and when Solomon learns of Lisa’s original motivation for contacting him. Brilliantly understated and sweetly humorous, this is one of those rare novels that casts a quiet, yet powerfully undulating spell over the heart. Reading it felt like spending quality time in the company of close friends. ~ Joanne Owen
Young children will learn the importance of rest in this hilarious story all about sleep and as result bedtime should become an easier time of the day! Get Some Rest, Sleeping Beauty is one title from the Fairytales Gone Wrong series and is a welcome addition for parents looking for picture books with a message.
There are two big lessons to be learned in this new take on the favourite fairy tale: don’t tell lies – we all know what happens to Pinocchio when he tells an untruth – and don’t pick your nose! The fairy who brings Pinocchio to life warns him against both these things, but he can’t resist rummaging around in his nose for bogies, and then denying it when accused! At last Jiminy Cricket arrives and with his help, Pinocchio mends his ways. Part of a picture book series that teaches children about hygiene, this certainly gets its message across and in a fun but effective way. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | May 2016 Debut of the Month An incredibly uplifting, thought provoking and sharply beautiful debut. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop and when I turned the last page I could quite easily have turned back to the beginning and started all over again. The first chapter smashed into my senses, sending them reeling, from then on in I was completely and totally engaged. Within a few pages you get a feel for the type of person Parker is, she’s different, and not just because of the obvious reason, but because she feels so real it almost hurts. Eric Lindstrom has created a wonderfully spiky and courageous character in Parker, as she tells her story you can hear her voice and picture every second as her personality bursts from the pages. With sharp kicks of wit and hugs of compassion ‘Not If I See You First’ is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson
Gosh, this is a full on adventurous tale about hope and survival! Then there’s the beautiful friendship between a boy and an otter cub which really gives this story heart and soul. Sam tells his own tale, after the small plane he and his dad were in crashes in an Amazonian jungle river, miles from anywhere. The first sentence seizes your attention, and the book doesn't let it go until the last page. D. J. Brazier has created a jungle that bites, it is scary, and powerful and made me wince and cringe as I read. I felt Sam’s fear and loneliness and admired his grit and determination, I also fell in love with a little otter cub! The story just races along, there are brushes with death, but then there are also moments of quiet, where a beautiful sunrise sears the pages. ‘Alone’ makes you think, makes you feel, and is a thoroughly gripping and enjoyable read. ~ Liz Robinson
Kim Hood writes poignantly and honestly about young people in difficult situations, making readers aware of the real person behind the issue. Jane’s little sister Emma has cancer and for the last three years has taken up all their parents’ attention. Jane loves her little sister too and worries about her but still can’t help resenting their parents for not noticing the effect Emma’s illness is having on her – for not really noticing her at all. She starts dropping out of school, breaking off contact with her friends. A relationship with new age hippy Farley comes as a boost, but then comes more devastating news about Emma. Jane is full of loathing for herself, a difficult character to like, but readers will be completely caught up in her story. ~ Andrea Reece
In a tradition of stories going right back to Beowulf, referenced in the book, this is a tale of stolen treasure, trickery and courage. Aidan is struggling to keep things together at home: his mother has been sectioned and his father seems almost paralysed with despair. It falls to Aidan to deliver the sacks of mail his postman father is hiding in their garden shed. So when thieves steal his bike Aidan has to go after them. It’s here that magic – old magic – intrudes into the contemporary setting. There are no portals suddenly opening, it’s not the sort of magic to bring special powers; hard to define, harder to pin down – ‘a sort of stillness that moved’ says Aidan – human lives are of no consequence to it and if Aidan emerges a hero it’s due to his own strengths. Gripping, compulsive reading, an exceptional book. Authors Sara Crowe (Bone Jack), Rupert Wallis (All Sorts of Possible) and Natasha Carthew (The Light that Gets Lost) all understand old magic and have written similarly powerful and enthralling stories. ~ Andrea Reece
An incredibly touching story about a girl who dared to be different. A wonderfully original and memorable read for it makes you realise that tweens and teens work too hard these days to conform and be the same in order not to be different. It’s a real breath of fresh air and the message from it to everyone is that it’s better to be different and have an individuality. It’s a life-changing and thought-provoking read that will touch all who read it whatever their age.
March 2016 Debut of the Month Twelve year old Suzy’s confusion following the death of her best friend fuels this roller-coaster debut novel. When Franny drowns in a freak accident during the school holiday Suzy finds herself dealing not with the death of her best friend as her mother thinks but with the far more devastating loss of their friendship sometime earlier. Suzy copes by becoming electively mute and by constructing a story to explain what happened to Franny. Moving back and forth between Suzy’s obsessive behaviour after Franny’s death as she finds out everything she can about the lethal jellyfish who is, she is sure, responsible for it and, the last few months before Franny’s death when the friendship unravelled is clever as she loses Franny to the cool set.
April 2016 Debut of the Month High school student Dill knows what it is to feel “the crushing weight of destiny”. His granddad went mad after a copperhead viper killed his daughter, and his dad, a fanatical Pentecostal minister, makes his congregation handle deadly serpents to prove their faith. While his father is now in prison for a terrible crime, Dill feels shackled by these family demons, and also by poverty, bullying and a fiercely religious mum who blames Dill for his father’s imprisonment. Dill also knows he’s lucky to have friends like Travis and Lydia. While staff-wielding Travis finds sanctuary from his violent drunk of a dad in fantasy books, Lydia is an energetic fashion blogger from the right side of the tracks. But everything shifts as the three friends embark on their last year of high school. Lydia is all set to study journalism in New York, Travis is excited about his burgeoning relationship with a fellow fantasy geek, but Dill has no hope for his future. He’s terrified of losing Lydia, and terrified that he’s already been poisoned by his family’s legacy. He finds some solace in song-writing but, when tragedy strikes, Dill descends to a very dark place and it takes supreme strength and love to untangle himself from the strangling grip of grief and despair. This southern gothic story about small-town small-mindedness, religious fanaticism, wrestling family demons and the redemptive power of friendship really is an exquisite gem; an unforgettably haunting tale that imprints itself on your heart. ~ Joanne Owen
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