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July 2018 Book of the Month | No-one knows better than James Patterson how to keep the pages turning and of all his junior heroes Rafe Khatchadorian is perhaps the most appealing. He’s the kid who just attracts trouble, the one the teachers call out the minute something goes wrong; but readers know that Rafe is actually pretty insecure, sometimes lonely, and very alert to others and how they are feeling. In London on a school trip, Rafe finds himself sharing a room with his arch-enemy, while special attention from his friend (and secret love) Jeanne marks him out for some sneaky treatment by her boyfriend. The story unfolds against a backdrop of busy, tourist London and is funny, exciting and touching all at once while the action is non-stop. Congratulations again to Patterson and his writing and illustrating partners on another irresistible and thoroughly satisfying read.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | This sparky collaborative novel by a glorious gaggle of top YA authors (Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood) centres around six memorable young adults whose paths cross at a TV broadcasting house: “The swot, the fraud, the dutiful daughter, the child star, the fan girl and the asshole”, all strangers who, “for whatever reason...ended up in the same lift at the same time.” Given their wildly different backgrounds, which range from working class Sasha to “asshole” posh boy Hugo, it’s unlikely they’d have met in anything but unusual circumstances. Indeed, their lives become bound together by a life-changing event that happens in the lift and compels them to meet year after year to mark the intense, affecting experience. The narratives are cleverly and seamlessly interwoven, with the same events told from different perspectives: Through recounting each character’s highs and lows, and the complications of their relationships with each other, this novel explores big issues with engaging authenticity - Alzheimer’s, grief, misogyny, shifting sexuality, falling in love, sliding out of love, and true friendship (i.e. the kind that doesn’t judge). Humorous lines are launched from all angles too, a personal favourite being Velvet’s “I look like I’m in bad fancy dress as a greasy-haired teenage version of Theresa May”. As the years pass, all six experience seismic shifts in how they see the world; transformations that start as an “excruciating, unreachable itch” and lead to “the realization that there’s more to life”. Gripping, entertaining and emotionally smart, this has the power to make readers laugh, cry, think and fall in love with YA fiction.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | These poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school (Thanks a lot, Belinda). Vending Machine is an incredible piece of writing, encapsulating the anguish and anger of betrayal, of having your heart trampled on, and then the bliss of recovery when your heart feels “a little lighter”. Another personal favourite is the sublime Dear Mum, BTEC about a student “drawing different plans” after realising they are ill-suited to exams - plans they hope will make Mum proud. There are jubilant themes too, such as the breathless, time-stopping “WHAM!” of instant attraction, the jangling joy of being at the bottom of a celebratory pile-on after you’ve scored, and the magic of those inspirational, unforgettable teachers who take time to share a book they think you “should try”. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | July 2018 Debut of the Month | Based on the author's own unconventional upbringing on a Thames Barge, Mud is an unusual and touching roman a clef. Lydia tells her father he is ruining her life when he announces that the family - she has one sister, two brothers and a much loved cat - will be going to live on a boat, and that his girlfriend Kate and her three children will be moving in too. His casual reference to Swallows and Amazons makes her shudder and it's hard to imagine any teenager would enjoy their new life - the boat is leaky and uncomfortable, adults and children alike squabble, and the atmosphere is far from happy. At least Lydia makes a new friend - the fabulous, straight-talking Kay - while other bright spots of life away from home include teenage parties and a burgeoning romance. Events are recounted by Lydia via diary entries, and she is a wonderful storyteller - funny, honest, with a wry self-deprecatory tone that endears her to readers. It's a story that could be very sad - Lydia's father's drinking becomes a real problem and eventually Kate leaves him; but Lydia's quirky stoicism, and descriptions of the love and support of her friends and siblings keep it an uplifting read. This is a great story for teenagers, but would be enjoyed by readers of any age. ~ Andrea Reece ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As the 1980s dawn, Lydia finds herself caught in a maelstrom of monumental change herself, which she recounts in her unassumingly witty diary. Her mum died three years ago and her dad has remarried Kate, which means she now has a new stepmum, new stepsiblings, and then - horror of horrors – her dad announces that they’re all moving to a new home. On a boat. Cue much conflict and upset courtesy of two families trying to get on in ramshackle surroundings, her dad’s increasingly worrying behaviour and her big sister flying the nest for Cambridge University. Lydia’s articulation of her grief is deeply moving; those moments that leave her “overwhelmed suddenly by the strangeness of my mother just not existing anymore.” Throughout Lydia is a loveable bundle of self-effacing honesty and contemplation, and her astute observations cut to the core: “Everyone has to grow up, don’t they? Everyone has to go away one day.” As Lydia navigates these swirling new waters, she practices the art of getting on with things and discovers the delights of genuine friendship. Funny, poignant and perfectly-formed, this is a triumph of true-to-life storytelling. ~ Joanne Owen
July 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: 21st century style fun and friendship | In book 5 of this popular series, our gang of friends/vloggers Lucy, Abby, Hermione and Jessie, are enjoying a special week camping, and not just on any old campsite – they’ll be going to a famous music festival too. It should be a holiday they’ll never forget, but tensions between Jessie and Abby threaten to spoil it for everyone. Then Sassy arrives and does something so irresponsible it seems like they’ll all miss out on the festival. Told in a mix of straight narrative, diary entries and vlog scripts, this series feels bang up to date, while still keeping the emphasis firmly on the things that have always mattered most to young girls – friendships, confidence, finding out who you are. Hashtag heart-warming! ~ Andrea Reece
July 2018 Debut of the Month | An unusual friendship, a chance to live as a princess, mystery, romance and intrigue, all set in the luxurious surroundings of a top boarding school – every summer holiday calls out for a book like this! Lottie has always longed to attend Rosewood Hall, which offers an escape from her nasty step-mother, and worked hard for her scholarship. Ellie has always wanted to go there too, but for very different reasons. She’s a princess and the school allows her a last chance for anonymity and freedom. The two become unlikely friends, and Lottie agrees to pretend to be Ellie, both of them undercover princesses. But it seems someone is out to get Ellie, could Lottie be in danger? Cinderella stories don’t come sparklier than this, and it will be dream holiday reading for many. If you like your romance tinged with a hint of royalty, look out too for Rachel Hickman’s One Silver Summer.
July 2018 Book of the Month | Lydia Monks’ new series is perfect for little children particularly those just starting nursery or reception. Frog is the star of this story which recounts his adventures on the school trip. He’s a very bouncy character and is so excited at the prospect of the day out that he can’t keep still at all. Wise Miss Hoot tells everyone to hold hands to avoid getting lost, but Frog can’t resist heading off on his own… All ends well though and the final page shows Frog and his daddy hopping home together very happily. There’s no mistaking the range of emotions felt by Frog, they are so clearly depicted in the illustrations, and his little friends are just as engaging and characterful. An excellent first book, lovely to look at, with a real story and lots to discuss throughout.
June 2018 Book of the Month |Narrated at breathless speed by super-excited puppy Junior, this new series is spot-on for newly confident readers. Junior’s honest, direct, puppy’s-eye-view account of his life with new owner Ruff Catch-a-bone (aka much-loved Patterson character Rafe Khatchadorian) is one of non-stop domestic drama. Junior’s enthusiasm for life is catching, and it’s impossible not to be completely caught up in his descriptions of his daily activities. Excitement comes in the form of puppy-obedience training, and reaches a climax at a local dog show. Junior’s future depends on him winning a prize, which he does, but in a typically funny and unexpected way. Great fun, and super-readable too, helped by well-spaced, large type and Richard Watson’s comic illustrations.
Jamie Grimm is back, and if you don't know why that's cause for celebration then it's time to wise up. Jamie is the star of the best-selling Middle School series by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Slick, sharp and effortlessly readable the books describe Jamie's exploits as America's funniest stand-up kid comic - or sit-down comic as Jamie would insist (he uses a wheelchair following a car accident). In this episode, Jamie is off on an international tour to compete for the title of the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic: a dream come true, or the stuff of his nightmares as Jamie worries he's only ever got the sympathy vote? There are laughs galore - Jamie really is very funny, and watch out for Peter Kay's guest appearance - but underneath it all there's lots too about the importance of friends and family, and why we need laughter to bring the world together. Give it up for Jamie Grimm everyone!
Everyone at Barry's school has gone football crazy, but Barry gets thrown out of the team (the Mogden Maniacs) for being completeerly rubbish. Then it turns out that his best friend Bunky is a super striker - so Barry becomes his manager. The cup final match is approaching and Bunky's getting carried away with his football fame - can Barry keep his head in the game? Join everyone's favourite Loser on his tenth hilarious adventure! Barry Loser: I am not a loser was selected as a Tom Fletcher Book Club 2017 title. Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms is shortlisted for the Lollies Award 2017.
It's hard to be the new girl but for Ella things are even more complicated. She has recently moved to a new area - and a new school - with her mum and brother, and a big secret. Ella has a talent for art, particularly photography, and joins the art club where she grows her friendship with Lydia, the school queen bee. But Lydia isn't all she seems and her motives behind her friendship with Ella are unpleasant. Soon Ella realises she is under Lydia's control but why? And what does Lydia hold against Molly? This is a pacy story of secrets and lies but it also carries a heartwarming message of friendship and finding the inner strength to be who you really want to be.
The bestselling fully-illustrated Tom Gates series is back with a new book! This book is VERY important because it contains BISCUITS, BANDS and all my (doodled) plans to make DogZombies the BEST band in the world. MY VERY BIG PLAN: 1. Write more songs about VERY important things like... ... biscuits 2. Make sure there's a good supply of SNACKS for our band practice 3. Avoid Delia at ALL COSTS, she thinks I've been SNOOPING in her room. (I have.) 4. DOODLE as much as possible, especially if Marcus is watching
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