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If you like Star Wars, you’ll love Alastair Chisholm’s space adventure. The action takes place on board the transport ship Orion as it heads out from Earth to a new colony far away. Reaching their destination requires ship and passengers making a series of Jumps through space and time, and surviving a Jump means entering a state of deep suspended animation. Emerging from one of these, Beth discovers that none of the adults can be woken, and that she is now acting captain with a ‘crew’ of fellow youngsters. There are tensions between the children, some alarming encounters with aliens and – much more terrifying – space pirates, all made worse when Beth begins to suspect that the ship itself may not have their best interests at heart. It all makes for a terrifically taut and entertaining page-turner, with twists and surprises galore. Don’t miss!
Set in a flooded future world, Tom Huddleston’s book is a thrilling adventure, in which two young people are caught up in a world of pirates, gangsters, power struggles and corruption. Kara and Joe live in a floating slum on the edge of what is left of London after rising seas have drowned our civilisation. They’ve always been told that the Mariners, gangs who live entirely at sea, are terrorists. But then Joe’s life is saved by a Mariner, who entrusts him with a secret map. It’s a story that poses questions about our future, individual responsibility and the morals of political activism. Timely, thought-provoking, and action-packed.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | At once amusing and affectionate, this early Middle Grade novel combines real-world alienation with actual aliens! Harriet feels terribly out of sorts when she moves in with Gran while her dad works away, but before she’s even had chance to say goodbye to him, she learns that her hearing aid enables her to understand alien languages, such as that spoken by the Sock Muncha she finds beneath her new bed. What’s more, Harriet discovers that Gran is part of a secret intergalactic organisation that’s working to protect Planet Earth from an invasion of Sock Munchas. Harriet runs into conflict when she’s taken on as Gran’s apprentice: how can she possibly banish her new alien friend, given that he was bullied by other Sock Muncha’s and isn’t at all like them? Alongside the action-packed alien adventure, there’s much sensitivity around making friends and making everyone feel welcome. For example, Harriet’s unquestioning acceptance of new friend Robin’s non-binary identity, which she describes as “kind of awesome.” What a sweetly empowering debut this is from a hearing aid-wearing comedian, actor and Ambassador for Action on Hearing Loss and the British Tinnitus Association.
Episode by Tracey Morait is a fanciful re-imagining of the story of Helen of Troy. It is also an attempt to show just what it's like to experience an 'episode', that is an epileptic seizure. The story brings together some well-known characters from the world of Ancient Greece - Helen, Menelaus, Paris, Hector and, of course, the 'meddlesome' gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus - with Alisha, a 13-year-old from the present day and Travis from a terrifying England at the end of the 21st century. The action switches between these three time zones, which Ali and Travis are able to access by time travel through portals, which come into being at the time of their seizures, as both are epileptic. The author paints a very realistic picture of life in Ancient Greece, a life Alisha finds very distasteful when catapulted there from a family summer holiday in Cyprus, as she is dressed, smells and is expected to behave as a slave girl. Her outrage and contempt for the system, especially the treatment of women, rubs off on Helen and the story then takes on a very different twist. The terror from Travis' time also comes into play when destructive entities access the portals and rewrite the events of the Trojan War, until the combined ingenuity of Travis and the gods (particularly Chronos, god of Time) finally set the records straight. I really enjoyed this book, it rekindled my interest in Greek mythology. It's an exciting fusion of legend and science fiction, with the added medical theme, which, as my granddaughter is epilectic, I also found fascinating. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Ash’s story is “probably the same as anyone else’s, more or less, just perhaps with more gas masks and a goat.” The goat is a Tennessee Fainting Goat named Socrates who lives with the isolated Canary community deep in the Arizona desert. The gas masks Ash mentions are needed by the Canaries on account of them suffering from debilitating environmental illnesses that doctors deny the existence of. And so begins a thoroughly thought-provoking novel that tackles huge health and environmental issues. Ash journeyed to the community in search of his missing stepbrother, Bly. The folk here cannot live in towns or cities due to all the chemicals and smells and electrical fields that trigger incapacitating Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. When Ash gets sick himself he discovers firsthand how it feels to have your symptoms rebuffed by medics who decide, “This is all in your head”, and pretty much declare, “I can’t cure you so you must be mad.” His frustration and pain is tangible. Indeed, Ash’s narrative is brilliantly compelling throughout. He’s a born storyteller whose voice chimes with authentic cadences and detours. Ash and Bly’s poignant family story is intertwined with much food for thought about a diverse spread of subjects - genetics, bacteria, antibiotics and human shortsightedness and greed. As former scientist Finch comments, “We are filling the world full of chemicals that we have precisely no idea about, and one not-so-fine day the chickens will come home to roost. With the canaries.” Ash comes to some sharp realisations too. Under the warm, wise tutelage of Mona, he furiously states that, “one day, doctors are gonna finally realize that there ain’t no god-dang difference between the body and the mind anyhow”. This remarkable novel is underpinned by its acute portrait of fractured folk forging an existence in a fractured world that seems on the brink of end times. But “maybe there’s time for one final chance,” Ash wonders, which will leave readers with a glint of hope and plenty to ponder.
Soar into space with this glorious love story of alien folk, from the creators of The Gruffalo and Stick Man. The Smeds (who are red) never mix with the Smoos (who are blue). So when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love, their families strongly disapprove. But peace is restored and love conquers all in this happiest of love stories. There's even a gorgeous purple baby to celebrate! With fabulous rhymes and breathtaking illustrations, this book is literally out of this world!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Danny is sure that the new boy in his class won’t want to become his friend: nobody else does. When they discover they both love the same computer game, Danny becomes more and more confused by Eric’s strange family life and the gaps in his knowledge. The truth takes him to some strange, dark places. Unique, relevant and wonderful.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | With all the invention, originality and insight that is typical of his writing for children, Frank Cottrell Boyce takes the sad story of Laika, the first living creature to orbit Earth, and uses it as inspiration for a story about the importance of home. As ever, it’s both brilliantly funny and extraordinarily moving. Prez is living with a temporary foster family when he opens the door to Sputnik. Prez sees an alien – in a kilt – everyone else sees a dog. Over the course of the summer Prez and Sputnik have some amazing adventures and break a lot of laws, including some of the laws of physics, but in the process they save the world, and reunite Prez with his grandfather. As wild as a cartoon strip, this wonderful story pinpoints all the best things about life on Earth. No-one writes like Frank Cottrell Boyce, and readers who enjoy this will also love his books Cosmic and The Astounding Broccoli Boy. Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord books are also very funny, and just as good on human nature as is My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons.
This first book in the Yin Yangs Odyssey series is a kaleidoscope of emotion and outlandish adventure. Eleven-year-old Freddie isn’t “exactly Mr Popular at the secondary school he attended,” which is no surprise given that his dad is “not only a science teacher but also the new deputy headmaster”. But it’s not long before feeling like an outsider is the least of his problems… When his dad doesn’t return from a trip to Egypt, Freddie is sent deeper into limbo. While left in the care of his tyrannical Nanny Maureen (a woman who reminds him “of that grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine), a strange mullet-haired alien being materialises in his room: “It could have easily been mistaken as human, but it wasn’t. The skin was a cold ice blue. Its eyes were twice as big as any man’s and radiated a piercing red.” The alien comes in peace, though and transports Freddie to planet Modeerf where he makes new friends and embarks on a voyage of discovery that might just lead him to work out where his dad has gone. With plenty of high-stakes hijinks and peppered with humour, this is a pacey blend of alien adventure and real-life emotion. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This inventive Wimpy Kid-esque book for 8+ year-olds (more graphic novel/comic than conventional novel) brims with high-stakes dilemmas, high-octane action, and a whole lot of humour. To set the scene, iLK is a Glubwark from planet Glub and his scary dad has invaded Earth. The book takes the form of iLK recounting the attack and its unexpected aftermath in his journal. From the off iLK is an amusing narrator, such as when his dad instructs him to land on earth to “help with the invasion” and he winds up realising that “I didn’t do a very good job, so now my job is to stay out the way. I’m very good at that.” This kind of wry humour and the accompanying doodle-style illustrations provide lots of laughs throughout. iLK is much happier caring for his collection of plants than getting involved in the invasion, but when his dad deems planet Earth useless, it falls to iLK to take on his father’s “Emperor of the World” role. There’s much tension as iLK steps-up to his new position but, little by little, he accepts it, first installing his HQ at Machu Picchu, then learning about the Amazonian rainforest. iLK is really getting into the idea of helping Earth survive and thrive when his dad drops a bombshell about why they really came here. Funny, engaging and with strong messages about making right choices and saving the planet, this is spot-on for eight to ten year-olds, and comes especially recommended for reluctant readers. Joanne Owen, LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Interest Age 9+ Reading Age 8 | Set in a future world in which kids risk their lives for real playing an online fantasy game, Virus is a nerve-tingling combination of science-fiction and martial arts extravaganza. Scott knows that playing Virtual Kombat will put his life in danger, but the only way to destroy the game is from the inside, and he really wants to avenge the death of his friend. In this he’s helped by a group of techno-hackers, but when it comes to the crunch, his tae kwon do skills mean he’s on his own against powerful opponents. Chris Bradford is an expert at keeping the tension high and this is page-turning, super-readable adventure.