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Patrick Neate’s Small Town Hero melds a sensitive handling of real-life loss with alternate world weirdness to create a surprising, unique novel. There’s grief and gaming, family secrets and football, and the interwoven themes of loss and science will appeal to readers who liked Christopher Edge’s The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and are now a little older. Everything changed for thirteen-year-old Gabe when his dad died in a car accident. First there’s his grief, which has created a “black hole inside me.” Then there’s his unsettling new ability: “the stories I imagine become real.” Reeling with grief and confusion, Gabe finds he’s not entirely alone when he spends more time with his estranged Uncle Jesse, writer of an online game called Small Town Hero, which - to make matters even weirder – appears to echo Gabe’s life. Jesse believes “there aren’t just a few realities, but a countless number” and explains that when Gabe shifts realities and sees alternate versions of his present and future life, he’s crossing something called an “event horizon”. As Gabe’s reality-shifting plays out, he also falls out with his best friend. Still, he has Soccer School to look forward to, and here Gabe takes on pertinent football wisdom from one his Watford icons: “Football’s a game of moments. You get the ball, you choose a pass and, whether you chose right or wrong and did it well or badly, the moment’s gone and you gotta move on…the game makes you live in the here and now – you can’t change what’s gone and you can’t see what’s coming.” For similar books you can find an exciting and varied selection in our new Gritty Reads section
August 2020 Debut of the Month | It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over. Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball ... are forfeit. But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen - she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world ... An electrifying twist on the classic fairytale that will inspire girls to break out of limiting stereotypes and follow their dreams!
Book Band: Grey Ideal for ages 8+ | Maxx the alien is sent to earth to study humans and specifically to learn about their feelings. His education comes on in leaps and bounds when he makes a human friend, Jibreel. The two have fun together, but there are real worries and sadnesses in Jibreel’s life too – he’s a refugee and is separated from his mother, and to a group of boys in his class, he’s the ‘alien’. Fortunately, Maxx is there to apply his other-worldly logic to the problem. Zanib Mian has a real gift for comedy and dialogue too and this is extremely funny, while at the same time it makes some very serious points. In the new Bloomsbury Readers series, the story is perfect for children growing reading confidence and understanding, with short chapters and frequent illustrations. A separate ‘Reading Zone’ section at the end lists discussion points and also encourages readers to think about the book’s narrative structure.
March 2020 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Winner of the Older Readers' category of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020 | Told in narrator Newt’s distinctive phonetic English, this dark debut dazzles with originality and delivers a potent case for combatting inequality. Bearmouth is home to a grim mining business, where men and children labour under inhumane conditions to make their Master wealthy. They work under the earth, under the omniscient Mayker who - so workers are told - “sen us down into the dark Earf/To atone for the sins o our forefarvers an muvvers”. Naïve Newt hasn’t seen daylight in years, but takes pride in being taught to read and write by fatherly Thomas, blithely accepting this lot until the arrival of new boy Devlin. Devlin’s talk of “revolushun” makes Newt feel that things are “unravellin slowly slowly lyke a bootlayce comin all undun.” Life in Bearmouth is beyond bleak, but the sparks of Devlin’s revolutionary spirit catch light and drive Thomas to ask the Master for “more coinage” for the workers, to question why they must pay for essential clothes, to demand to know when the promised safety lamps are coming. Then when tragedy strikes, Newt too realises that things “ent bloody well ryte” and takes on Devlin’s insurgent tendencies, with explosive effects. Emotionally engaging, this searingly original novel about standing up to abuses of power and fighting for freedom is radiant with story-telling excellence. The Branford Boase judges said : ‘Astounding!’; ‘I loved every single second’; ‘plot, story and voice are superb’; ‘I was totally invested in the characters’; ‘interesting, challenging and original’.
A review for the first in the series, The Maze Runner A cracking sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure thriller for 11+ year olds that has already taken the US by storm and is set to achieve similar success globally. When Thomas wakes up, walks out of the lift he’s in he finds himself in a walled encampment – the Glade - surrounded by a maze alongside lots of boys. He wonders how he got there but no one knows. All they all know is that every 30 days a new boy arrives and every morning the big wall comes down between the Glade and the world inhabited by the terrifying Grievers, part-animal, part machine, and the boys will risk everything, to find out why they’re there and every evening the wall goes up again. This really is adrenalin pumping reading that fans of Michael Grant’s Gone series, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies will love. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher I love books like this. You are plunged into the action, just as confused and frightened as the characters you meet. There are no rules – or none that make sense – but gradually you learn to survive, and to hope. Or is that another trick? This is brilliant, nail-gnashing stuff. Thanks, James, I didn’t want to sleep for a week anyway! This set includes the three books in the pulse-pounding Maze Runner series.. The Maze Runner The Scorch Trials The Death Cure
A cracking sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure thriller for 11+ year olds that has already taken the US by storm and is set to achieve similar success globally. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher I love books like this. You are plunged into the action, just as confused and frightened as the characters you meet. There are no rules – or none that make sense – but gradually you learn to survive, and to hope. Or is that another trick? This is brilliant, nail-gnashing stuff. Thanks, James, I didn’t want to sleep for a week anyway!
A cracking sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure thriller for 11+ year olds that has already taken the US by storm and is set to achieve similar success globally. Surviving the apocalypse was hard enough, but when Mark's community is attacked by an unknown enemy spreading a deadly virus, he's determined to find out who's responsible before the Flare infects them all ...
Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back ...but no one knew what was waiting outside. The earth is a wasteland. Government and order have disintegrated and now Cranks, people driven to insanity by the disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim ...and meal. Does Thomas hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
An electrifying Maze Runner prequel, The Fever Code holds all the answers: How did WICKED find the Gladers? Who are Group B? Whose side are Thomas and Teresa really on? Lies will be exposed. Secrets uncovered. Loyalties proven. You'll never see the truth coming ...
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.
A gripping science-fiction adventure pits a group of kids with super powers against a mysterious Russian billionaire. Infected by an extraordinary virus from a meteor storm, Sarah, Robert and the younger children in their charge are now at risk from those who want to exploit their super skills. All set to escape from Australia to a new life far away from danger is halted when Nikolai Makarov suddenly enters their world. His plan is deadly. Can the children stop him? Danger and daring are closely interwoven in this thrilling story.
Superpowers and conspiracy collide in this unmissable action-packed sci-fi thriller, sequel to Meteorite Strike and Alien Storm (click here). Sarah and Robert Williams are no ordinary brother and sister. With superhuman powers originating from the mysterious Fall Virus that left thousands of others in a coma, the two are now working with government agency HIDRA and other superhuman kids to find a cure. Can the superhuman team stop the disaster or have they finally met their match? This is the final chapter in the mind-blowing trilogy of mesmerizing heroes, superpowers and non-stop action by critically acclaimed author A.G. Taylor.
The hilarious adventures of earthling Tommy Storm as he is suddenly transported to join a training school in the Milky Way. Is Tommy, a well-known loser on earth, about to become the saviour of earth and the universe? Not if evil mastermind A-Sad-Bin-Liner succeeds in unleashing his plot of mass destruction. The intergalactic adventures are action packed and totally compelling. It's funny, fast-paced science fiction for fans of Star Wars, Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Space Balls and Red Dwarf.
Earthling Tommy and his four Milky Way friends are Galactic Knights - on a mission to save the Universe from pending destruction. Time is running out and the knights have many challenges in their way: they face the dreaded Beast of Hellsbells, must resist the allure of fame on an intergalactic gameshow and escape the deathly intents of the sherbet-addicted Nack Jickelson and the suicidal Chocolate Terrorists. All the while evil mastermind A-Sad-Bin-Liner is planning to unleash his plot of mass destruction and Tommy will be forced to choose between his friends and his ambition, between the universe and his own life.
Chosen as a favourite by Philip Pullman: "[this book] showed how children's literature could sound dark and troubling chords." Carnegie Medal winner, 1967.An all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships. The author is wonderfully adept at interweaving mythical legend with the present day world and the haunting descriptions of time and place coupled with characters that hang long in your mind will have you glued to the pages until the end.
A unique blend of fantasy and thriller and myths and legends but grounded firmly in real present-day life. It was winner of the 2000 Blue Peter Award 'book i couldn't put down category'. With twists and turns virtually on every page you're left gasping for breath but wanting more. Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers. To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here.
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