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One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and October 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.
Joanne Owen's Pick of the Year 2015 “Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them,” so declares Tess, the troubled heroine of this remarkable novel about alienation, family conflict, the often cruel dynamics of school and, ultimately, the struggle to find one’s place.Everything changes for Tess when she uncovers an earthshattering family secret. With her whole life pulled apart and seemingly founded on a lie, Tess makes a stand by retreating into selective mutism, thus the voice she’s always used to please others is transformed into a form of rebellion. In place of conversing with people, Tess communicates with the fish-shaped torch she bought when planning to run away. But while Tess withdraws into herself, the outside world becomes increasingly hostile.Always inimitable and never confined by convention or recourse to cliché, Annabel Pitcher’s protagonists are consistently created with insight and honesty, warts and all, and Silence is Goldfish is an unforgettable novel. ~ Joanne Owen
Oskar, a small, black bird, loves lots of things: the deep blue sea, the smell of spring, pictures. He loves to lose himself in a book, walking in the moonlight, and the silence of snow. Each of his passions is depicted on its own clean, clear spread, in simple, bold collage illustration, with Oskar himself a lively presence centre page. ‘What do you love?’ he asks at the book’s end and, inspired by Oskar, little children will have no shortage of suggestions. Simple, stylish and beautiful to look at, this is a wonderful book for sharing. ~ Andrea Reece
A new story about Willy the chimp is always exciting. Willy is off to the park when he notices a cloud following him. No matter how hard he tries he can’t escape it, and while everyone else is having fun, Willy sits and shivers. The police can’t help, and hiding inside just gets him hot and bothered. Only when Willy shouts at the cloud do things improve: in the resulting cloudburst Willy dances in the delicious cool rain, joyful and Fred Astaire-like! Browne is an extraordinarily adept storyteller and this funny, wry story explores feelings of anxiety and apprehension. As ever there’s so much to look at in the surreal illustrations, and children will discover more in each reading. ~ Andrea Reece
August 2016 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: ways to change the world Joseph is not classic super-hero material: he’s asthmatic and rubbish at sports, bullied regularly and nicknamed Wilco because he always complies when someone demands he does their homework. Imagine his surprise and excitement therefore when he develops special powers including telekinesis. Could this be his chance to get his own back on the bullies, impress the gorgeous Indira and even join super-heroes unlimited the Vigils? Well, yes and no. The story that follows is a sharply-observed comedy of teen life, with a serious undertone. Amongst the comic-book action Burstein shows what heroism - the kind that calls for real courage – really is, and reminds readers that heroes and villains too are often those we least expect them to be. ~ Andrea Reece
Lenny’s grandpa King Lion is getting forgetful and confused. He gets night and day mixed up and even forgets Lenny’s name. Grandma explains he’s not himself and Lenny works out ways to help his grandpa remember, games and activities that also make the old lion happy. Lots of children will recognise their own grandparents in King Lion and Julia Jarman and Susan Varley have created a lovely picture book that explains dementia in a very honest, yet gentle and reassuring way. Touching and poignant, the book also celebrates the special relationship between young and old. ~ Andrea Reece A note from the author, Julia Jarman "When librarian Karen Morris told me there was a very real need for a story about dementia I said I'd have a go. Karen said a lot of children were having to come to terms with the fact that their grannies and granddads were losing their memories. Beloved grandparents were acting oddly and they didn't know why or what to do. I sympathised; I have friends with Alzheimer's, bright friends who started acting out of character. Lovely Old Lion is the result of this collaboration. Susan Varley has illustrated my text with huge sensitivity, conveying every nuance of emotion - and it is an emotional story."
In a nutshell: Iconic | Outspoken | Big Issues | Difficult Truths Set in South Africa in the 1990s, a time when an increasing number of young black South Africans are dealing with the violence, the legacy of disrupted schooling and the continued struggle for survival. The story focuses on one boy's struggle for survival as he leaves the violence of his home and joins a gang of children living on the streets. It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.
In a nutshell: Iconic | Outspoken | Big Issues | Difficult Truths The moving and very real story of two teenagers and an unplanned pregnancy. It is told from two viewpoints - that of Helen as she writes her thoughts in a series of letters to the unborn baby, the Dear Nobody of the title, and of Chris as he reads the letters and relives events as Helen is in labour. It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first. The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.
A gritty, deeply moving story that shows how the human spirit can triumph in the harshest of worlds. The deserved winner of the Children's Book Award when it was first published. This is the story of children who live on the very edge of destitution. Dani and Mamo, and the gang of street boys that they join, have nothing and share everything. Their courage, loyalty and determination enable them to survive in the harshest of worlds.
July 2016 Debut of the Month Absolutely compelling. I have to admit to being rather surprised by ‘The Otherlife’, I think I was expecting a rollicking fantasy adventure, instead a startling, yet subtle and thought provoking read awaited. Either told from the viewpoint of Ben as he is about to take his GCSE’s in 2012, or through his classmate Hobie’s journal in 2008, The Otherlife focuses on the importance of friendship and a variety of issues such as the pressure of being a teenager and parent’s expectations. While Ben copes with pain, both physical and mental, Hobie bulldozes his way through the school year, with few morals, and little thought. Julia Gray sets the Otherlife flickering on the edge of the page, on the knife edge of reality... waiting. As I settled in and felt as though I was beginning to understand, the writing ripped my thoughts apart and set me off on a new path. An intruiging, slicing read, The Otherlife, is also warmly tender and compassionate, and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson
June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one - and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She's trapped like a butterfly in a jar. But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away. But freedom comes at a price... Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson's The Art of Being Normal, Jandy Nelson, Sarah Crossan, Jennifer Niven and Louise O'Neill.
Teens & YA's love to read and are the best authority on how it feels to be a teenager so we asked one of our teen Reader Review Panel members to read and review this title. Here's what Humaira had to say... 'This is a book that I am glad I have had the chance to read it at this age. It's great that others will do so too! I’m a person who would say that they haven’t really had ‘proper’ difficult teenage years, compared to others but that’s not to say I didn’t have it easy. I wore a headscarf when most of my peers didn’t, I was painfully shy (still am sometimes) and I didn’t socialise well. I think Rosalind’s book was amazing; it tackled appearance and loving the way you look phenomenally. That particular chapter/segment appealed to me the most because I’ve always been so conscious, worried about what people thought about the way I dressed, wore my headscarf or even if it matched with what I was wearing. It was a fantastic read and I know it will be helpful for teens today; the writing style is great so it’s easy to read and understand so hopefully a lot of teens will read this without feeling a little lost. Obviously I recommend this for everyone to read!' Humaira Kauser, age 18
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