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Tom Johnson's fantasy novel 'Silver Planet' is a book to instil hope in it's young adult readers. As a teenager with no religious belief to fall back on, I felt the weight of the crushingly depressing realisation that I was mortal. This story might have saved me from a lot of misery and heartache at that time in my life. The author wrote it in response to loss in his own life and the book is the first in a forthcoming series. The action is set on Opus-Earth and it's sibling planet, Centurian, a universe away. When humans 'pass' on their home planet, their souls are transported to Centurian, where they attach to another, carefully chosen, human and live through them under a new regime in which magic is an everyday, though strictly regulated, occurrence. The secret of human eternal consciousness is kept by birds and their friends and allies, the Grandmasters. The souls journey to their new homes is, however, threatened by the Skulls and their Arc of Darkness, who snatch souls whenever possible and subject them to eternal torture and suffering. Into this scenario, the aptly named Jonathan Powers erupts, with his unique magical powers, and it takes all the efforts of the birds, the Grandmasters but above all Jonathan himself, to eliminate the Destructive Interference and put the worlds back into kilter. This thoughtful and enjoyable read is thoroughly exciting yet comforting, and could be a great boost to young adult mental health. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Alston is a debut author who looked in vain for a hero or heroine who looked like him in fantasy novels – and this delivers and so much more too. Amari is a child who attends a posh school on a scholarship – but really finds it hard to fit in and avoid the bullies. Her mother is a hard-working health worker, and her brother Quinton is missing – his disappearance seems be the root of Amari’s difficulties. As the holidays approach Amari receives an invitation via a mysterious messenger to be considered for something (at this stage unexplained) – by attending an interview. From here on the story becomes a hugely imaginative, funny and compelling adventure. Magic and mystery flow thick and fast from this point on – as Amari takes her chances to prove herself and to start finding out what happened to her brother. The story takes you through the development of some close and lasting friendships, against some awful magical bullies and monsters, to an exciting and nail-biting adventurous conclusion, though it leaves a possible opening for more books about Amari in future. A wonderful fun adventure addition to every child's bookshelf and any school library looking for more representation across all it’s genres.
Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
The robot Adam-2 has been locked in the basement of a lost building for over two hundred years - until one day he is discovered by two children, and emerges into a world ruined by a civil war between humans and advanced intelligence. Hunted by both sides, Adam discovers that he holds the key to the war, and the power to end it - to destroy one side and save the other. But which side is right? Surrounded by enemies who want to use him, and allies who mistrust him, Adam must decide who - and what - he really is.
Will Jakeman is extraordinary! As a tiny baby, he was sent across galaxies in his little i-cot, invented by his mother, to escape interplanetary space pirates attacking his home. Landing on planet Urf he was adopted by a kindly old couple, also coincidentally inventors. With such an amazing background, how could Will be anything else other than an inventor, and as for his inventions – wow! There’s the self-making bed, suction shoes so that you can walk up walls, but most amazing his mechanimals, fabulous mechanical creatures just the thing to take if you’re going on an adventure, or to have at your back if you’re being terrorised by a rampaging raptor. The story is interspersed with wonderful diagrams of these amazing creations, the chemical powered Crustacean Hover-sub for example or, best of all, Steel-Skull, a robotic hydrogen-powered metal gorilla. They all have special parts to play in Will’s adventures and the book is perfect for those who want their reading imagination-packed and out of this world! As an added bonus there’s lots to encourage you to sketch your own wonderful creations too.
May 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2021 | Alfie’s family have recently moved to the country to help his sister recover from some unpleasant experiences. And it doesn’t take Alfie long to realise that he just doesn’t fit into Folding Ford. But fitting in doesn’t matter so much when there is the mystery of the weather to be resolved. Alfie plunges headlong into trouble when he opens something he shouldn’t and lets out something very fast, very fizzy and very full of electricity. Can he and his new friend Sam whom he enlists as a reluctant partner get to the bottom of what is causing all the trouble? They will certainly do their best to try….Debut author Clare Weze writes with a freshness and energy that sweeps her readers along leaving them exhilarated if a bit confused!
Gripping from the first moment on, this is a scary, an unputdownable and a brilliantly plotted fantasy. One minute all the adults are there - next they're gone! Only the children remain and they are trapped, cut off from the outside world and, scarily, left to rule themselves. Can they survive? With no guidance, gangs start to form. Danger lurks at every corner and everyone has to make a choice – to be cruel or humane. It’s a chilling prospect and the new world order is scary for all. It's Lord of the Flies for the Heroes generation with just a dash of the X-Men thrown in for good measure.
May 2021 Book of the Month | Despite being set in the 1920’s in the imaginary country of Afalia, this stunning and inventive story, from twice Carnegie medal winning author McCaughrean, has powerful messages about the current state of politics, big business and environmental exploitation in our world and most loudly of all about the need for reliable and independent news sources. The story is partly revealed by facsimile newspaper cuttings and it is fascinating to see the progression from real information to manipulation of popular opinion by ruthless and deadly corrupt officials. Gloria, a naive 15-year-old maid to the Suprema, Alfalia’s ruler, is at the heart of the story. As flooding and disaster threaten to overwhelm the country, the Suprema runs away, and Gloria is inveigled by the Suprema’s husband into temporarily impersonating her. As they discover the full extent of the corruption and misinformation, they face an uphill battle to save lives and stand up for what is right. Meanwhile a second narrative follows the fate of people in the neglected North (in another real life parallel) and a dog’s epic quest to find his boy. The canine conversations are just one of the pleasures provided in this multi-layered narrative populated by such a vivid cast of characters and with so many twists and turns keeping the reader enthralled. Ultimately the novel demonstrates the resilience of man and nature and the ability of people to do the right thing given half a chance. This really is vintage McCaughrean and highly recommended. As our Guest Editor in April 2021 Geraldine McCaughrean tells us more about The Supreme Lie and her other brilliant novels.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | What happens when Mum and Dad can no longer rely on technology to keep them informed? Following a nationwide collapse in everything technical, Stella’s family sets off to visit Grandma on the other side of the country because they can’t reach her on Skype. It’s a road trip with a difference – no phones, no sat nav, no paying for a meal with a credit card. Stella makes a great narrator as she watches her father, shorn of his usual helping tools, navigate this new situation. In doing so she lightly reveals the pitfalls that would beset us all if all the screens went blank while also gently leading readers to see that there could be some benefits.
This is the third in this hi-octane thriller featuring four teenagers, each of whom have different psychic powers, which together can defeat almost anything. The problem is that government agents want them to help to infiltrate the criminal underworld but of course the criminal world also want them to help fulfil their crimes. As with the first two this one is relatively short and a real page-turning read.
The fourth in this hi-octane series featuring four teenagers, each of whom have different psychic powers, who together can defeat almost anything. One of them Dylan has her hands chock full as she tries to discover the truth behind his father's death, the scientist who created the medusa gene that gives these children their powers. It's a roller coaster ride.
Set in a dystopian future world where the Earth has been overwhelmed with its own trash- an all too feasible scenario- and where the rubbish stored in space now completely encircles the planet. Very different life-styles have evolved, from the privileged few inhabiting the mountain top City of Glass and the earth dwellers scraping a living amongst the rusting junk below in Boxville- the City Of Rust. Above them all, the feared Junker clans make their fortunes mining the rubbish in space. There is a definite Star Wars feel to this setting enhanced by the drone racing that our heroine Railey and Atti her robotic gecko pilot excel in. Atti and their drone have been built by Ralley’s half Junker, master engineer, Gran. But when they are pursued by an apparent bounty hunter, Gran is lost, and they are rescued by two Junker kids. They discover a destiny for Atti and their drone that Gran had never revealed to them. Their task is to save the planet from extinction by a junk bomb and its powercrazed creator. The pace never lets up in this action-packed adventure. The wisecracking but caring relationship between Atti and Railey really engages the reader. The colourful and exotic cast of other characters and the vividly imagined world building will give this real appeal to gaming fans. A memorable debut.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2021 | Jokes a-plenty in this fresh and witty version of a Year 6 school camp with a difference. Set in a not-so-very-different space world in which the kids travel around on flykes and eat bounce cakes (the bounce ingredient ensures they bounce straight into your mouth when you drop them), it captures all the pleasure and pain of a residential school trip. Friendship, first love and having fun fuel this entertaining and slice-of-life story. A Moon Boy Loves My Best Friend is the third book in the Moon Girl series, but all of the books work perfectly as a standalone read.
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