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Emily Knight is back in all her brilliant, brave glory! She’s a fabulously inspirational heroine of colour, a girl who’s not afraid to take on even the most perilous of missions. Even though she’d “lost count of the nightmares she’d had since her encounter with Neci, the deadliest warrior to exist”, Emily steps-up to the mark when Neci returns, set on war and destruction, with Emily a main target. An action-packed race against time soon kicks-off, with lively, engaging dialogue peppering the pacey plot, and some heart-warming moments of love and friendship running alongside the drama.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2018 | Master story-teller Philip Pullman is as brilliantly creative in this gripping, multi-narrative graphic novel story as ever. In an adventure which both pays homage to the best-traditions of the past and dashes into the future so enabling it to give an interesting commentary on our own time, Pullman’s lively cast of characters travel through time and place. At the centre of the adventure is a mysterious ghost ship, the Mary Alice, crewed by men from all times including ancient Rome, the seventeenth century and the present. But someone in the present is desperate to get their hands on the boat and will stop at nothing to do so. When contemporary teenager Serena falls from the family yacht she is rescued by crew member John Blake. How can he evade the present day evil and return her safely to her family? Pullman’s brevity and storytelling power are superbly realised in Fred Fordham’s atmospheric and equally taut illustrations. With the sea at the heart of them all, they conjure up the different times and places of the several narratives and define the characters in them. The result is a delight of a book for readers of all ages. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2018: Mariella, Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer Opposites by Roald Dahl 1, 2, 3 by Roald Dahl The Day War Came by Nicola Davies The Hippo at the End of the Hall by Helen Cooper The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman Philip Pullman says: “I wanted to do this because I love the comic form. You can do things in comics with great economy, swiftness, force and effect, and I just wanted to use those potentialities.”
Pounding hot on the clawed heels of its primeval predecessor, this second installment of the rip-roaring The Extinction Trials sequence sees Lincoln and Stormchaser face another deadly mission to save humankind from destruction at the hands of three killer species. Since they managed to survive the first grueling trial on Piloria, who better to return to test out a new virus that could allow humans to resettle there? The action is every bit as satisfyingly high-stakes as book one, with the introduction of new characters and further family revelations providing extra intrigue. Oh, and there are NEW DINOSAURS too! What a killer concept this series is, and executed with all the in-your-face action and crash, bang wallop “what if?” dilemmas fans of fast-paced, fiercely-written fiction could wish for.
Fantastic, funny and weirdly wonderful, with beautifully apt illustrations by Mark Beech. Johnny can see and talk to the dead, not scary zombie ghostly dead people, just rather ordinary dead people who don’t want anyone to build on their cemetery. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ was first published in 1993, yet is still bang up to date in terms of humour, wit, and observations. Terry Pratchett was wonderfully clever at pointing out just how absurd humans can be sometimes. He takes the dead, from the First World War Blackbury Pals, to former magician Mr Vicenti and brings them to life, well, perhaps to life isn’t quite the best way to describe it, but he certainly makes them accessible and approachable. Terry Pratchett makes me laugh, most importantly he makes me think, and I absolutely adore his books. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ walks into ghostly graveyards and makes them interesting, fascinating places, full of information that we really shouldn’t forget, or demolish and build over!
May 2018 Book of the Month How To Bee is unlike any story I have ever read. The narrative voice is heartfelt and the author uses a mild form of dialect to bring both her characters and setting to life. Seen through the eyes of eight year old Peony, we see great hardship and brutality but also friendship, courage and determination. This is at times a harsh and truthful read, tackling difficult issues of environment, poverty and abuse, unafraid to hide the cruelty and yet finding within the beauty of nature, family and what really matters. It's a story about standing true to your dreams, and that with hard work, love and kindness we can help those dreams come true. It is also a reminder of how precious our natural world is and how we must do all we can to protect it for both us and future generations. Peony is a pest who dreams of becoming a Bee. It's a simple life centred on the trees and family. In a world where pesticides have destroyed the bee population it now falls to children like Peony to save the harvest from pests and other dangers that may destroy their precious produce. The best workers who are light and quick become hand-pollinators. Armed with feather wands they climb from tree to tree pollinating the flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit. Peony lives on the farm with her sister Magnolia and Gramps. Her Ma lives and works in the city, coming home every now and then with cash and fresh bruises. At eight years old Peony can't understand why she doesn't stay, they live a simple life but they have everything they need. But Ma thinks Peony would be better off working in the city for cash so they can save and build a better future. Strong willed and courageous, Peony is determined to remain in the place she loves and earn her stripes to work as a Bee on the farm. How To Bee shows that even the smallest person can make a big difference in a challenging world. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
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