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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.
Two greedy squirrels learn to share in the third hilarious rhyming adventure from the bestselling creators of The Lion Inside and The Koala Who Could. Greedy squirrels Cyril and Bruce both have their sights on a very special prize: THE VERY LAST NUT OF THE SEASON! As the nut bounces crazily though the forest, the squirrels race after it, between the trees, over boulders, down the river and - ARGH! - right to the edge of a waterfall! Working together might be the only way to save themselves now ... A laugh-out-loud tale about friendship and sharing from the award-winning creators of The Lion Inside and The Koala Who Could. Perfect for competitive friends and sibling rivals! APraise for The Lion Inside: 'heartfelt message, delightfully conveyed' Parents in Touch 'A delight to read over and over again' WRD'Captivating' Books for Keeps 'Will easily win over readers' The Book List 'Field is on top form, offering so many imaginative framings and irreverent characterizations that readers will feel carried along by his visual and comedic generosity.' Publishers Weekly 'Brilliant ... had me in hoots of laughter' The Bookbag Praise for The Koala Who Could: 'Fabulous rhymes, I'm in love with Kevin and would like to buy this for all my friends' children.' Claudia Winkleman
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
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | February 2018 Book of the Month This inspirational novel about three young Suffragettes from very different backgrounds is at once a riveting character-driven read, and an outstandingly rich account of British social history between 1914 and 1917. Seventeen-year-old Evelyn is exasperated by the unfairness of a society in which her academically disinterested brother is afforded the expensive privilege of going up to Oxford while her genuine desire to broaden her mind is dismissed as pointless. “These university women lead very sad lives, I'd hoped for better things for you - a husband, and a family, and a home of your own,” her mother poo-poo’s. But, shirking familial disapproval, Evelyn joins the Suffragette movement and finds herself at the heart of a highly-charged rally, with serious repercussions. Then there’s May, a flamboyant fifteen-year-old who revels in being different and is encouraged to do so by her liberal Quaker mother. May is also a passionate Suffragette, and passionate, too, about Nell, a working class girl from Poplar. The flowering of their love and lust is brilliantly portrayed, as is the contrast between their respective backgrounds. Then, the political conflict of WWI heralds personal conflicts for the three young women, not least when Nell’s desire to contribute to the war effort angers pacifist May. The nature and struggles of masculinity are also excellently explored through, for example, Nell’s brother who wrestles with "feeling much less of a man than he should be”. This novel is the perfect tribute to the incredible women who blazed a trail during the early twentieth century, and its inspirational scope and storytelling excellence cannot be praised enough. I loved it. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Inspiring celebration of black trailblazers This inspiring, illuminating, stylishly accessible anthology invites young readers to discover and celebrate phenomenal forebears and contemporary catalysts, while encouraging them to blaze their own inimitable trails. Taking its name from a Nina Simone song, and written as “a love letter to our ancestors, and to the next generation of black changemakers,” this exuberantly illustrated book presents a plethora of outstanding individuals who’ve realised amazing achievements in their respective fields. Among the fifty-two figures we meet are household names from contemporary culture (Michelle and Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé, for example), and hugely important historical heroes and heroines. While some will be familiar – Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks, for example – lesser-known pioneers are also presented, among them Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space. In their introduction, the author and illustrator issue an emboldening statement about the importance of representation – “all children deserve to see themselves represented positively in stories”. And, with such a dazzling diversity of talents portrayed here (from writers, musicians, dancers and visual artists, to sports people, scientists and politicians), this book has much to inspire a real range of young readers. ~ Joanne Owen
Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is - and what he's looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal... It's a holy freaking huge awesome deal. Originally published as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8+. How do you see off the school bully? Sick of being picked on and called ‘chicken’ the narrator of this story thinks up a dare to show up Darren Bishop, the school bully. A farm boy himself he is quite at home with the big bully Olly and he dares Darren to come up close too. When Darren Bishop flees from the field his bullying days are over but there’s a twist in the tale…Is anyone really safe from the bully? A gripping story with a surprising ending. ~ Julia Eccleshare Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+
If anyone can teach young people how to best understand themselves and their world it’s Gemma Cairney. There are lots of good self-help and advice books but Open Your Heart stands out because of Cairney’s honesty and because of her brilliant, direct voice. Reading it is like being in the same room as her and leaves you feeling more positive, more confident, readier to accept yourself for who you are. It’s divided into two sections: your heart, and your body and soul, and covers topics from family and friends to body image, sex and sexual health. Information is provided by experts, often in the form of interviews by Gemma, all interspersed with her own knowledge and experiences, as well as what she’s learned as Radio 1 agony aunt. A properly invaluable book. ~ Andrea Reece
This collection features poems by three of our best-known and best-loved children’s poets, Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens. Between them, using a range of poetic styles and voices, they cover lots of topics – friendship and togetherness, difference, tolerance, bullying. Some of the poems make their point through humour while others, particularly those about the refugee experience, are necessarily bleaker; some even contain direct advice about where to go or who to turn to in specific situations. All do what poetry does best, that is they will make readers think, engage and look at things, even situations or feelings that may be really familiar, with new eyes. An excellent collection that will be read and read again. ~ Andrea Reece
January 2018 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
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2018 An eye-opening book, The Girl Who Saw Lions (originally published as Abela) is the touching and profound story of two girls who apparently have nothing in common. The two girls tell their own stories. Abela, growing up in Tanzania, is surrounded by suffering. Her father has already died and now her mother and her baby sister are desperately ill. When they die too, Abela is sent off to England and an uncertain future as an illegal immigrant. Rosa, growing up in England, has everything she could possibly want. There is no reason why these two should become sisters. Their individual stories and the story of how they come together through adoption make a beautiful, satisfying and complete story. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for January 2018 Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by by Mem Fox Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal Emmeline and the Plucky Pup by Megan Rix Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy The Girl Who Saw Lions by Berlie Doherty The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham
AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS. Everybody ran, ducked, hid, tucked themselves tight. Pressed our lips to the pavement and prayed the boom, followed by the buzz of a bullet, didn't meet us. After Will's brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don't cry. Don't snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn's gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will's friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he's doing. This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.
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