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April 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Falling Angels | Rising Hope | Falling in Love Compelling magic realist debut in which a fallen angel named Teacake helps heal a teen girl’s grief. Across the world angel-like Beings are falling from the sky. Their winged bodies seep golden blood on impact with the earth, and then they die. In the aftermath of the first sightings, the world exploded in an apocalyptic frenzy, yielding religious cults and angel-exploiting money-makers. Alongside this, Jaya is also dealing with a personal apocalypse – the sudden death of her mother. While Jaya struggles with her guilt-ridden grief, and with losing contact with Leah, the best friend who might also have been her girlfriend, she’s also irritated by her dad’s fanatical angel-chasing. But, as things turn out, it’s Jaya who’s there when an angel falls, and, for the first time, this angel survives. Angels don’t exist in Jaya’s mum’s Hindi religion so she pushes aside any thoughts that this is somehow a sign. But amidst the frenzy of the Edinburgh festival and the aggressive fanaticism of the Standing Fallen cult, Jaya does everything she can to protect this shimmering rose-gold Being from harm. The angels are never explained, or fully understood, but that isn’t necessary, for this isn’t about hard scientific facts, this is about matters of the soul. It’s a charming debut, radiant with humanity and heart. ~ Joanne Owen
We all want our children to be happy and resilient, but may not realise that they can be taught skills to make them happier people. Written by a psychologist with the charity Action for Happiness, this book explains ten keys to happier living and sets out practical, fun activities for children to do that will make a real and lasting difference to their lives. The text is friendly and reassuring, broken down into easily accessible paragraphs or charts while bright graphics with animated characters make it attractive to look at too. Each of the ten chapters has tips for children to use in their everyday lives, including a section on developing mindfulness. Happiness really matters, and the more children and adults who read this book, the better. ~ 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 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: It takes courage for the show to go on Highs, lows, love and laughter - this big-hearted circus-set debut has it all. Siblings Finch and Birdie Franconi are high-flying trapeze artists in their family circus school. They’re fearless in flight, and also in fashion. Their no-nonsense attitude and endlessly inventive ensembles of bright blazers, tutus, paisley print, polka print and outlandish accessories certainly make them stand-out at school, and also attracts the attention of brainy new boy Hector. Reluctant at first, Finch agrees to teach seemingly hapless Hector circus skills, but when Birdie has an accident on the trapeze, his world begins to unravel. Finch feels fear for the first time, and it falls to Hector to show him that the show must go on. Alongside the tension and turmoil around Birdie’s condition, and the radiant razzle-dazzle of the circus, there’s a magnificent (if rocky-roaded) romance, and many words of wisdom come courtesy of Birdie’s blog posts: “You can’t control everything. That’s where courage comes in; sometimes you have to just go for it”. Complex questions are put under the spotlight as the main characters try to navigate their way in the world, wondering who they are, who they should be, how they fit in, and these big issues are all explored with clarity, humour and a whole of lot of heart beneath Franconi’s exhilarating Big Top. ~ Joanne Owen
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: how to hope for the best even when you’ve been through the worst | Susin Nielsen puts her protagonists through the most terrible situations, but always manages to keep the tone of her novels light, positive and ultimately uplifting. Teenager Petula’s little sister died in tragic circumstances and the effect on the family has been shattering: her parents are both coping in their own way, but growing further apart, while Petula sees danger and threats in everything. Because of her terrible anxiety she’s been signed up to a youth art therapy group which is where she meets Jacob. Jacob has his own tragedy to deal with, but his arrival changes the dynamics of the group and helps all the different members to move on in one way or another. He and Petula become a couple, but there’s a growing realisation for her and readers that he’s not been completely honest. Readers will be gripped by Petula’s story and the way she tells it; Nielsen gives her a totally authentic teen voice, loaded with cynicism, sarcasm, humour and flashes of hope. Recommended for readers who enjoy Nielsen’s poignant, sensitive novels is I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloane. ~ Andrea Reece *** Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take the quiz & find out! OptimistsQuiz.com
In a Nutshell: Time-travel, tyranny and tension This suspenseful sequel to Movers takes readers on an exhilarating time-travel trip as Patrick tries to return to his own time to save his family’s fate. In 2083, overcrowded and ailing planet Earth is home to two types of people, Movers and Non-Movers, and Movers like Pat possess the ability to bring their Shadow – a person from the future to whom they’re connected – to their own time. But Pat has been has been lurched forward 300 years into an unfamiliar future by Bo, his own Shadow. On finding himself in 2383, Pat is tormented by fears for his family: “anything could have happened to the people I love. It’s the not-knowing that’s driving me crazy”. Now he and Bo are occupying the same time “neither of us can move the other”, yet Pat must return to his family, and so they set off on a terrifying quest through a dangerous and dynamically-depicted dystopian world. While the concept is pretty complex, the writing is clear and thrillingly fast-paced, and this comes recommended for younger teen fans of sci-fi and dystopian fiction. ~ Joanne Owen
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
This beautifully illustrated version of John Lennon’s song Imagine vividly encaptures the message of the lyrics. Illustrator Jean Jullien chooses to make his central character an ordinary city pigeon. Travelling by train and boat as well as through the air it crosses the world, olive branch of peace in its beak, a bag emblazoned with the symbol for nuclear disarmament slung round its neck. It meets different birds on its way, stopping to break up squabbles and fights before settling down on a branch for the night, only to be joined by a colourful flock of friends. The juxtaposition of words and pictures will demonstrate even to the very youngest the concept of a world with no countries, no possessions, no war; a world where we can all live as one. ~ Andrea Reece
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
So, how did a slightly bonkers misfit with anorexia, bulimia and anxiety decide to solve their problems? I became a model. As you do. Charli Howard had always wanted to be normal - but for some reason, she couldn't quite find out how to do it. As a teenager, she felt like the only one who struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues when everyone around her seemed to fit in. So she tried to embrace standing out: by becoming a model. Believing it would make her happy and envied, she set out single-mindedly to make it - and she achieved her dream. But the reality wasn't quite as glamorous as she'd hoped. The pressure on Charli to look a certain way took an extreme toll on her body and self-image, and no matter how thin she got, she was never thin enough. When Charli, though medically underweight, was fired by her modelling agency for being too big, she decided she'd had enough. She used her platform for good and spoke out about the insane standards of the modelling industry, whose images influence young women and girls all over the world. Now, Charli is comfortable in her skin for the first time ever, working happily as a plus sized model in New York. Here, she shares her journey, from anorexic and bulimic teenager to happy, healthy twenty-something.
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