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In a nutshell: the inspiring true story of ballerina Michaela DePrince | This charming little book opens with a scene any young dancer dreams of: a girl peeking through the curtains before flying onto the stage, a ballerina. The journey taken by that young ballerina to make that entrance is particularly inspiring however: she is Michaela DePrince, and the book describes simply and without embellishment how she came from an orphanage in Sierra Leone to become one of the world’s best dancers. It’s a story of hope, courage, love and persistence, filled with enough dance detail to satisfy tutu-wearing youngsters while gently reminding them anyone’s dreams can come true with hard work and practice. Ella Okstad’s illustrations of Michaela and her fellow little dancers are absolutely gorgeous. ~ Andrea Reece
I know I can't change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see Wonder is a true modern classic, a life-changing read, and has inspired kindness and acceptance in countless readers. Now younger readers can discover the Wonder message with this gorgeous picture book, starring Auggie and his dog Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio. With spare, powerful text and richly-imagined illustrations, We're All Wonders shows readers what it's like to live in Auggie's world - a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he's not always seen that way.
March 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Utterly invaluable, gloriously gracious guide to life | This heartfelt handbook for young adults by an inspirational presenter and producer is the literary embodiment of a big sister’s shoulder and a best friend’s ear. Split into segments exploring Your Heart, Your Mind, Your Body and Soul, Your World and Future, this warm-hearted, straight-talking nugget of non-fiction gold offers vital advice on dealing with life’s challenges (e.g. depression, bullying, eating disorders, self-harm and grief), while also providing succinctly savvy introductions to politics, feminism, finance and the environment. Cairney confides in her readers throughout, thereby opening a healthy headspace in which individuals can contemplate their own outlook, anxieties and aspirations. The book also offers readers opportunities to personalise the funky graphic pages, which feature thought-provoking, interactive exercises, from playing Family Bingo and taking the Period Quiz, to a map on which to mark your wildest wanderlust dreams. Packed with an abundance of info, insight, empathy and encouragement - from the comforting “we all mess up sometimes”, to the truly uplifting “now go reach for the moon!” - Open is surely set to become THE must-have manual for young women navigating the often-tempestuous waters of their teenage years. ~ Joanne Owen
Read this sensational mystery bestseller before you watch the 13-part Netflix series, executive produced by Selena Gomez. This special edition is complete with exclusive behind-the-scenes content including a 16-page full-colour photo insert featuring scenes from the show, and interviews with the cast and crew. You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret ...is to press play. Clay Jensen returns home from school one day to find a mysterious box with his name on it, outside his front door. Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier. On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. If he listens, Clay will find out how he made the list - what he hears will change his life forever.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award March 2017 Book of the Month | 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
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Before meeting his new foster brother, Jack understands what he and his family are ‘getting into’. Fourteen-year-old Joseph almost killed a teacher, and he has a three-month-old daughter, Jupiter, whom he’s never seen. But from the outset, when Joseph storms off the school bus and Jack joins him on the freezing two mile walk, we know he’s found a friend and ally. We know Jack ‘has his back’. At first Joseph won’t be touched, barely speaks and is nervous of milking the cows on Jack’s farm but, as Jack comments, “you can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him”, and the cows love Joseph. Slowly-slowly, Joseph opens up and begins to smile - Jack counts each one of them – but he’s haunted by memories of the girl he loved, Jupiter’s mother, and by her tragic death. Joseph can’t get Jupiter out of his mind either, and so his nightly sky-search for her planetary namesake becomes a heartrending real-world search; he has to find his baby daughter. While further loss lies ahead, this is, ultimately, a remarkable read-in-one-sitting story of friendship, love and the glow of hope that comes from second chances and new life. Joseph’s tragic tale will break your heart, but the tenderness that flows from this flawlessly compact novel will also piece it back together. ~ Joanne Owen
This reworked fairy tale provides children with a memorable demonstration as to why honesty is definitely the best policy. Princess Arabella is bored in the castle and decides to change places with a local shepherd boy. But guess what? Watching sheep all day is pretty dull too so to liven things up she pretends she’s being attacked by wild animals, causing the villagers to rush up the mountain to save her. When they finally realise she’s telling lies, she’s left to face a dragon on her own. It’s a great way to initiate discussion about why it’s not good to lie, and about considering others too, wrapped in a nicely delivered and exciting story. ~ Andrea Reece
Take a tour round the inside of the human body in this unusual and quite excellent information book. It examines our component parts, from cells to blood, bones, liver, lungs and the brain, explaining how they function – and thereby how we function – though colourful, intricate cross-section diagrams, each one full of busy little people demonstrating the myriad different actions involved. In this way complex processes are broken down into comprehensible steps. Short passages of text illuminate things further. You can’t help but be drawn in by the look of the pages and this is an absolutely fascinating and thoroughly effective introduction to the workings of the human body. ~ Andrea Reece
In a Nutshell: Personal awakenings on a transformational summer trip | An insightful coming-of-age story about a bisexual teenager’s first experience of love in all its dizzying bliss and complexity. Fifteen-year-old Aki is determined to stop putting things off, and determined to stop living hypothetically: “If I wanted my life to change, then I had to do something. Or at least try.” With that firmly in mind, Aki and best friend Lori make a pact “to have a fling” during their summer trip to Mexico with her dad’s church mission. And that’s where she meets Christa. While Aki’s known that she’s bi for a while, she’d “never known it was possible for a person to look as cute as Christa did”, and the attraction is mutual. But, as the hypothetical starts to get very real and very intense, the young women have some serious complications to deal with, not least the fact that Christa might just have a boyfriend back home, and very strict parents she’s terrified of coming out to. Alongside its elegant portrayal of sexual awakening and safe sex, the novel also explores Aki’s inspirational political stirrings (she oversees a big debate at the summer camp, and becomes passionate about health care issues). As Aki remarks near the end of the tale, “I could do anything. All of us could. We were only as limited as we let ourselves be”, which is a rather wonderful message of hope to come away with. ~ Joanne Owen
Kevin the cuddly koala is king of the staying-still kings. He feels secure high up in his tree so turns down all the invitations from his friends to come down and play, until one terrible day his tree crashes to the ground. But even as his worst fears are realised Kevin notices he feels fine, that life can be great when you try something new. Rachel Bright’s joyous, funny rhyming text and Jim Field’s vibrant illustrations will encourage even the most cautious of readers to embrace life and there should be a place for this on bookshelves high and low! ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018 | Drawn from Debi's own experiences and with a moving testimony at the end of the book explaining how depression has affected her and how she continues to cope, Debi hopes that by sharing her own experience she can help others who suffer from depression, and to find that subtle shift that will show the way out.
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award There’s something appealing just about the format and feel of this book – a small hardback, it looks inviting and eminently readable. And it is just that. Alex is getting by at school through the simple expedient of making himself invisible. But the balance of power there changes with the arrival of mysterious notes from someone calling themselves Icarus, promising to fly. As excitement spreads, and Alex learns who Icarus is, the knowledge is both thrilling and troubling – after all, Icarus’s flight ended in tragedy. Ultimately, though it considers some of the most depressing and depressingly familiar aspects of human behaviour, this is a story of hope, with a little nod to magic in it too. ~ Andrea Reece From the same publisher, and in the same pick-up-able format, the Costa shortlisted Jessica’s Ghost takes a similarly thoughtful and life-affirming look at friendship.
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