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January 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Coping with bipolar disorder | Finding the courage to shed secrets | Intense, insightful exploration of how it feels to live with bipolar disorder, and finding the strength to reveal who we really are. Sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan’s life is a precarious balancing act. She’s on a strictly managed cocktail of meds to control her dysphoric mania, a form of bipolar disorder which makes sufferers feel simultaneously manic and depressed. Mel is also mourning the death of her brother, who suffered from the same condition and believed that “everyone has a super power.” Mel identifies hers as “the ability to not think about anything I don't want to think about", which she lives out by keeping her condition secret from everyone but her family. But, while this secrecy is how Mel seeks to maintain equilibrium, along with working in an old people’s home, it’s also what causes a huge falling out with her friends. She’s locked into this cycle of secrecy until her new doctor remarks that in order to enjoy the intimacy she craves, she needs to give people the “chance to know and love the real you”. Along her turbulent journey, Mel’s vital relationships with the people she meets in the home are stirringly portrayed, especially David, the grandson of a resident, to whom she opens up. Heart-rending, empathy-inducing and uplifting, reading this novel is an immersive, all-consuming experience that really does resonate long after the final page. ~ Joanne Owen
A unique shimmering hardback edition of an internationally bestselling classic. Best-selling and glorious Guess How Much I Love You has delighted children – and adults - for a quarter of a century. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare want to tell each other just how much they love each other. But how do you measure love? Luckily, the two Hare’s know just how much they mean to each other. And Anita Jeram’s illustrations convey that brilliantly. Julia Eccleshare *** Celebrate over twenty years of sharing love to the moon and back with this fantastic Storytime Event Kit full of ideas for your own Little Nutbrown Hare party with games, suggested activities and a lovely party invite - download it here!
November 2016 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Race against time | Racing hearts | The difference a day makes | Intense tale of fate, fraught families and migrant lives told over the twelve hour period in which a teenage girl falls madly in love while desperately seeking to save her family from deportation. Natasha has been making solitary pilgrimages to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office for some time, but time has all but run out. On this morning’s last ditch visit the worst is confirmed: she and her family must return to Jamaica in ten hours. “What about college?” she pleads. “Do you have any idea what it’s like not to fit in anywhere?” While she's angered by the officer’s naïve assumption that her life will turn out irie in Jamaica, he offers Natasha a lifeline when he sets up a meeting with a top attorney, and so she sets off across New York to meet him. Meanwhile, Daniel’s story begins to unfold. Born in the US to South Korean migrants, Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale when he’s smitten by a girl he happens to see. That girl is Natasha, and their attraction is mutual, and strong. But Natasha believes in science, not in “unprovable” things like love, though she can’t deny her rapidly intensifying feelings for Daniel. But it’s not long before Natasha has to meet the lawyer, and Daniel has his interview and so they must part. Then a combination of snap decisions and chance throws them back together, and they fall deeper in love as time ticks down. I adored the author’s debut, Everything, Everything, and this confirms her status as a writer of considerable talents. Expansively thought-provoking, incisively told and breathtakingly smart on love, identity and the shifting relationships between young adults and their parents, this is YA at its finest, and its exploration of migrant experiences (“for most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith”) is insightful and timely. ~ Joanne Owen
A delightful version of the bestselling picture book which lets you piece together just how much Big and Little Nutbrown Hare love each other with this jigsaw-edition of this much loved classic. Best-selling and glorious Guess How Much I Love You has delighted children – and adults - for a quarter of a century. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare want to tell each other just how much they love each other. But how do you measure love? Luckily, the two Hare’s know just how much they mean to each other. And Anita Jeram’s illustrations convey that brilliantly. Julia Eccleshare *** Celebrate over twenty years of sharing love to the moon and back with this fantastic Storytime Event Kit full of ideas for your own Little Nutbrown Hare party with games, suggested activities and a lovely party invite - download it here!
November 2016 Book of the Month In a nutshell: the unbeatable power of the imagination | Piers Torday’s beautifully written book is an extraordinary allegory, a story of courage and love, and of the life-affirming importance of stories. It’s Christmas Eve and Mouse, his sisters and mum are driving across the snowy moors to his grandparents’ house when their car plunges off the road. Thrown clear Mouse begins a journey for help, but as a knight in one of the fantasy stories that mean so much to him in real life. It’s an epic journey too, full of strange characters, friends and enemies alike, and despite the dreamlike atmosphere the reader is never in any doubt as to how dangerous it is, or how much depends on Mouse reaching the castle. Not many books change readers’ views of the world, this might be one of them. ~ Andrea Reece
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | In a nutshell: sad | funny| touching | Susin Nielsen has won many fans for her poignant, character-driven stories of young people in difficult situations. Ambrose, the eponymous word nerd, is just such a central character: he’s isolated and lonely – shocked by the sudden death of his father his mother is anxious and over-protective – socially awkward too. His life changes when he strikes up a kind of friendship a neighbour, without telling his mum because Cosmo is a former drug addict with a prison record. This in turn leads to more friends as the two join a local Scrabble club, and a happy outcome for each. Readers will totally believe in this friendship, and root for Ambrose and Cosmo. A feel-good story filled with memorable characters, and one that sneaks all sorts of truths about life past its readers too. Readers who enjoy Word Nerd will also like A Seven Letter Word by Kim Slater, which also uses Scrabble as a hook for a moving story about struggling young people, while Stacey Matson writes satisfying, heart-warming stories about kids overcoming problems. ~ Andrea Reece
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2016 A pacey new story set in Storey Street featuring a cast of outrageous characters doing a host of amazing and extraordinary things. Masher’s dad is determined to get his greedy hands on the space in the street where a house was stolen from so that he can sell it for loads of money. But the kids in the street have a different idea. Can they and the performing Jessops, who turn up in the nick of time, defend the special place? Mayhem, magic and a certain amount of trickery follow is this bubbly adventure which adds a great new chapter to the Storey Street series. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for October 2016 Kim by Rudyard Kipling The Fox and the Ghost King by Michael Morpurgo Coming to England by Floella Benjamin Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher The War Next Door by Phil Earle
In a nutshell: absurd comedy genius | Timmy Failure is the best worst detective in children’s fiction, and a wonderful comic creation. In this adventure he’s having to ply his trade very surreptitiously indeed – Mum has banned all detective work until the school holidays. To make things worse, forced to share his room with his cousins, he must set up his office in a garden shed at the local hardware superstore, a place referred to always as Home Despot. Additional trials in Timmy’s life include piano lessons, and trips to orthodontist Mr A Goni. The plot brings even the most surreal strands together and it’s very satisfying. Timmy narrates with the exasperated air of the misunderstood genius and his version of events is just one of the things that makes these books so enjoyable. Timmy Failure will appeal to fans of those other thwarted heroes Tom Gates, Barry Loser and Greg Heffley. ~ Andrea Reece
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
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