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The books in this section cover a range of PSHE topics including bullying, family issues and racism. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and cover age ranges from Toddler to Older Teen.
May 2022 Book of the Month - Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | Patrice Lawrence’s new book for Barrington Stoke is heartrending and thought-provoking, a taut first-person narrative that many will find themselves reading in one sitting. 15-year-old Charlene is struggling to say in control of her life. She’s been in care since her mother died two years ago and desperately misses her little sister, who is living with her own father. Knitting is Charlene’s therapy, the click, click, click of the needles helping her find calm, but the pressures she faces at school and outside are overwhelming. An act of cruelty against her leads Charlene to rage and violence. As the security she has known unravels, readers will understand her despair and frustration, particularly at the constant demands on her to be sorry. Written to be accessible to all readers, Needle lets us see through someone else’s eyes, highlighting the restrictive effects of society’s expectations of individuals. Vivid, powerful and unforgettable. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic teen readers
May 2022 Book of the Month | Here’s a book parents are going to want to share with their daughters, as it celebrates confidence, difference and everything that makes us feel happy in ourselves. Shelina Janmohamed was inspired to write it by a conversation with her own young daughter and the approach she takes is clear, fun and full of information that young people will find stimulating and useful. She’s open that how you feel about the way you look matters but shows that, as ideas of beauty are always changing, across cultures and time, beauty can be what you want it to be. She introduces us to lots of women, all regarded as beautiful, who challenged conventional ideas of beauty, confident in themselves and their bodies and encourages readers to be the same. She explores the role of social media, enabling readers to look critically at images they are shown and form their own opinions. The text is always engaging and supportive, and the photos and accompanying illustrations by Chanté Timothy amplify the message being delivered. Inclusive, intelligent and inspiring, this is an empowering examination of a topic that has been preoccupying girls for centuries. Shelve it alongside Open: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be by Gemma Cairney, another invaluable illustrated guide to navigating growing up.
May 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2022 | Within a heart-warming story revolving around the love between a grandchild and her granny, award-winning author Patrice Lawrence has cleverly found a new way of telling a beautiful story of one young woman’s arrival in England on the Empire Windrush while also touching on the amazing achievements of some of the best-known black women from previous generations. When Ava asks her Granny to help her dress up as someone she admires for a school assembly, Granny goes straight to the dressing up trunk. Should Ava go as Mary Secole or Rosa Parks? Both are women that she admires but she knows her school friends will go as them too. But then Ava discovers Granny’s suitcase. In it, there are just a few precious things that she was given when she left home. Each is a reminder of Granny’s family at home. Ava listens to Granny’s story about leaving home and about staying on – even though there were some dark days along the way. Inspired, Rosa knows that her own Granny is the person she most admires!
May 2022 Debut of the Month | Navigating loss, love and family strains while standing out as a brown girl in a predominantly white school isn’t easy for Ellie, a budding songwriter and music aficionado. A beautiful, funny ode to finding the strength to sing up and stand out, Ellie Pillai is Brown is sure to chime with readers who also feel they don’t quite fit in, with QR codes peppered through the book bringing Ellie’s songs to life, and adding extra depth to the experience. Ellie Pillai is a girl who know what she loves — music. And, against her parents’ wishes, she’s set on making a go of her drama GCSE, determined to find a way to overcome feeling invisible. While her family are mourning the loss of her little brother, which has left Ellie and her mum terribly distant from each other, Ellie has the stable support of her best friend. But her life is well and truly shaken up when a new boy and his twin sister arrive at her school. While handsome Ash is the only person who gets all her music references and understands the power of a playlist and finding the right song for every situation, it looks like he’s hooked up with her best friend, so Ellie tries to put him out of her mind. At the same time, Ellie’s new drama teacher instils her with confidence: “I think you have presence, something special about you. Something different”. If only Ellie can stop putting herself in a box and making herself small. Exploring grief, consent, family expectations, self-confidence, first love, same sex love and mental health through its well-drawn cast of characters, Ellie Pillai is Brown strikes a smart balance between humour and emotion.
‘Shirley Chisholm was one of those people who didn’t look left or right – but just looked straight ahead’ said President Obama of the extraordinary woman whose life-story is told in this inspiring, short graphic novel-style book, and readers will understand exactly how accurate his statement is. Growing up in Brooklyn after a childhood in Barbados, Shirley worked hard at school and college, but still found opportunities for her and other Black people were limited. She set out to change things, entering politics and making a difference locally before winning a seat on the New York Assembly in 1964, only the second Black woman ever to do so. She carried on getting things done, breaking rules when necessary, and taking ‘unbought and unbossed’ as her slogan. She became the United States’ first Black congresswoman and then, in 1972, broke the biggest (unspoken) rule of all: she ran for President. Though she didn’t win, Shirley Chisholm changed the way her country looked at women in politics, and her story, as told here, will prove to today’s young readers that it is possible to change things for the better with determination, hard work and by refusing to accept the status quo.
Elsie witnesses the rise of antisemitic fascism in 1930s London in this gripping new story from award-winning author Tanya Landman. Life has always been tough on the streets of Stepney, where Elsie and her brother Mikey are growing up in a vermin-infested slum nicknamed Paradise . But the rise of antisemitic fascist Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts in the 1930s stirs up trouble between families who have lived closely together for years, and Elsie sees friendships torn apart. When Elsie and Mikey attend a Mosley rally, intending to heckle and cause trouble, they soon see how dangerous the situation has become, but out in the streets the fascists find that people will stand and fight against them and against hatred in what becomes the dramatic Battle of Cable Street.
The horrific real-life cost of fast fashion is exposed in this gripping tale of survival from bestselling author Steve Cole. When twelve-year-old Hanh is offered a job as a shop assistant in Hanoi, she sees it as a chance to earn money to send back to her family living in poverty in rural Vietnam. But on her arrival in the city, she soon learns that the job offer was a lie and finds herself working in virtual slavery in an illegal garment factory. Life in this sweatshop is a daily hell of long hours, little rest, poor food and regular violence. Hanh is desperate to escape, but when an opportunity arises will she be able to find the courage to take a dangerous chance?
And so for anyone who didn't really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you'll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is . . . Intimately set within the walls of a family home, this book is an incredible artefact of the historic year we have all lived through. We travel from the depths of despair but not without hope; the mundane details contained within four walls becomes our sanctuary. This is a gift in commemoration of a time and place, of a world wide pandemic, of loss and of the murder of George Floyd. It is a reminder of how, in uncertain times, we can cling to the simple things for respite, for hope. A reminder of how comforting books and artworks are in times of extreme stress.
No one is too small to make a change. Growing up, there is so much out of our control and so much we can feel helpless about. But together, we can make a difference. In this inspiring and practical handbook, bestselling children's author and Human Rights campaigner, Onjali Rauf, shares her top ten ways for creating change. With the help of her favourite fictional characters and some of the most inspiring people she has ever met, Onjali invites readers to dive in and discover everything there is to know about kindness, empathy, friendship and fighting for the things that matter. (Plus cool stuff like X-ray vision and deflecting negative forces.) Because with a bit of compassion, a big dollop of hope and even the smallest act of kindness, we can all make the world a better place. Hope is on the horizon; you just have to find it. Parental guidance recommended: issues related to discrimination, injustice and prejudice are included.
Within a heart-warming story revolving around the love between a grandchild and her granny, award-winning author Patrice Lawrence has cleverly found a new way of telling a beautiful story of one young woman’s arrival in England on the Empire Windrush while also touching on the amazing achievements of some of the best-known black women from previous generations. When Ava asks her Granny to help her dress up as someone she admires for a school assembly, Granny goes straight to the dressing up trunk. Should Ava go as Mary Secole or Rosa Parks? Both are women that she admires but she knows her school friends will go as them too. But then Ava discovers Granny’s suitcase. In it, there are just a few precious things that she was given when she left home. Each is a reminder of Granny’s family at home. Ava listens to Granny’s story about leaving home and about staying on – even though there were some dark days along the way. Inspired, Rosa knows that her own Granny is the person she most admires!
April 2022 Book of the Month | Bea, her big sister Riley and their mum have moved from London to stay with their gran in a small country town. All three are looking for escape after the sudden death of the girls’ father. Just before he died, the family attended London Pride – Riley had just come out as gay – and memories of a colourful, joyful day have taken on a special significance. As she starts to make friends, Bea is ever more conscious of her sister’s sadness, until she suddenly realises there is a way to bring Riley out of herself. Now the only obstacle is the town’s resident busy-body and general ‘do-badder’. It’s surprising what you can achieve though when everyone accepts one another and works as a team. As sunny and cheering as the rainbow design on its sprayed edges, this is a story that recognises the importance of standing up for what you know is right, and for others. In its depiction of grief and depression, it strikes just the right note and delivers a message of inclusivity and tolerance with the lightest touch.
Following her highly acclaimed debut novel, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, we have another powerful story depicting an authentic story of young lives impacted upon by the institutional and everyday racism experienced here in the UK; which makes it an even more important and challenging read. Narrated by three very different teenagers brought together by a moment of terrible violence when they witness a stabbing and for whom the overwhelming impact of this experience is exacerbated by what they are forced to confront. For rich and privileged Jackson at an exclusive school, the casual assumption of his classmates and potential girlfriend that the crime is gang related and the victim blamed, together with police failures and the subsequent biased media coverage, really opens his eyes and draws him closer to Chantelle and Marc. They live in Manchester’s Moss Side and attend the same school as the victim, but even there, the school will not challenge this biased view and it is where we see Chantelle struggle to overcome negative teacher assumptions about her abilities. When Jackson becomes a victim too, we see the ultimate failure of the justice system. But this is not just an angry novel, although it should indeed spark anger and awareness of white privilege, it is a nuanced portrayal of three individuals and those around them and emphasises the importance of family and friendship. Marc, after a life in care, finds his family with these friends and both he and Chantelle gain confidence that they can make something of themselves. The touching, gentle romance between Chantelle and Jackson and the strength of his own family ties gives him and the reader hope that his life has not been ruined by injustice. An absolute must have for schools.
Powerfully applying the horror genre to explore racism and homophobia in a high school setting, Ryan Douglass’ The Taking of Jake Livingston is an un-put-down-able, chilling tale for our times. Sixteen-year-old Jake isn’t exactly your average teenager. He’s a medium, he can see the dead. Ghouls and zombie-like beings appear to him, ectomist seeps into his vision, “snakelike and sinister”. Jake is also one of the few black students at his private high school: “I hate it here. Every time we run warm-ups it’s like there’s a BLACK KID sign blinking above my head like a firetruck light”. As a result, the arrival of a gorgeous new black student is especially welcome, and brings the promise of romance. But Jake’s visions are worsening, to say the least. While most of the ghouls he sees are harmless, Sawyer Doon’s spirit is vengeful. After killing six students in a high school shoot-out, Sawyer killed himself, and is now set on using Jake to exact revenge. As an intense and chilling story of survival unfolds at breakneck speed, The Taking of Jake Livingston balances edge-of-your-seat scares and action with emotionally engaging themes.
March 2022 Debut of the Month | Ablaze with atmosphere and adventure, Akala’s The Dark Lady is a radiant, resonant tale of magic, a missing mother, and treachery in Elizabethan London. Fifteen-year-old Henry lives in poverty in the care of a pair of apothecary sisters. A skilled thief and writer of sonnets, he has an additional extraordinary gift — he “can close his eyes and read languages”. Letters become “colours, shapes, sounds and musical notes. Always a different pattern emerged and it was endlessly beautiful”. And, with brown skin inherited from his absent Beninese mother, Henry is subject to racism, with England’s insularity and prejudice pertinently portrayed — the rhetoric of foreigners “stealing jobs” is all too familiar. At the same time, there’s a seamless interweaving of Black history. For example, Henry is amazed to learn about Juan Latino, “a son of slaves who rose to become a professor of Latin at the University of Granada”. Then there’s reference to John Blanke, the famed black trumpeter from Henry VII’s court. Caught in the act of burgling a wealthy duke, Henry’s language magic earns him a seat at the duke’s opulent table, and grants him an audience with historic figures like Dr John Dee and his idol, Shakespeare. With a wicked sense of humour and pride, Henry is an enormously endearing young man, not least when he rubs his fine clothes and fancy talk in the face of a bigoted baker who previously refused to serve him. With the action never letting up, a succession of betrayal, intensifying dreams and discoveries about his mother steer Henry towards a land across the sea. Simply fabulous.
March 2022 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Here’s another brilliantly presented and engaging book from Kate Pankhurst. Typically accessible and readable, Fantastically Great Women Artists introduces eight inspiring women artists plus one culture-changing female collector (Peggy Guggenheim). They lived at different times and came from different countries and backgrounds, but all these women were talented and ready to stand up to those who told them they shouldn’t or couldn’t be artists. Young readers may have come across Frida Kahlo, one of the greats included, but are much less likely to have heard of Amrita Sher-Gil, Elisabeth Le Brun, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Faith Ringgold, Kathe Kollwitz or Dame Laura Knight. Pankhurst tells their stories through lively text, fully integrated with illustrations which carry even more information and insight, so that readers get a very vivid sense both of the lives of these women and of the art they produced or, in Guggenheim’s case, promoted. We understand the worlds they lived in, just how much hostility they faced, and why it mattered to them to create the work they did. This is so much more than a book about the women featured, it’s about history and art and women’s rights – everyone should buy a copy.
Sadly, racism is too prevalent and the more we talk to our children about the issue, the better. If they can spot racist behaviour, and understand how unfair it is, the less likely they are to be racist themselves, and the better they’ll be at sticking up for others. This hugely effective book works by posing serious questions for children. These are printed on flaps and illustrated with bright illustrations, appealing to look at and very engaging. After they’ve thought about the questions and discussed them, the flaps can be lifted to reveal answers, which are clear, expressed in ways that children will understand, but often thought-provoking and likely to lead to more discussion themselves. The questions are grouped under themes from ‘What is racism?’ to ‘Why are people racist?’ and finally, ‘How can we stop racism?’ Throughout, children are encouraged to think for themselves and, while it’s clear how damaging and hurtful racism is, there’s a positive message that says through understanding, being aware and changing our behaviour, together we can stop racism forever.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2022 | Told frankly in a direct and convincing first person narrative, Me, In Between is a powerful and moving story of the very many complex emotions and situations for the narrator, Madina and also for all children like her who are displaced from their home by war. Madina is an ordinary girl living through an extraordinarily difficult situation. Everything in her life has been turned upside down – her family has no home, her father has no work and her parents dont speak the language of the new country. And then there is everything new to learn about the country she has arrived in. Madina’s ambition is to fit in: to learn the language and customs of her hosts, to do well at school and, above all, to make friends. Can Madina pull all the disparate strands of her life together? Set in Austria and translated from German, this award-winning novel tells a universal story which will affect readers of ages. Translated by Claire Storey
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