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In a Nutshell: Sinister short stories Sublimely spine-tingling, this evokes all the dread of an ominous tap-tap-tapping on your door in the dead of night. Picture this. You rush to catch your usual train but your relief at making it in time shifts to unease when you realise that it’s eerily empty. Your journey is only supposed to be three stops, but it’s taking too long and the route is unfamiliar. You seize an opportunity to disembark, but wonder how you’ll get home from this deserted station. Then a man appears, with his dog, carrying a glass lantern. He offers to tell you stories to pass time while you await another train. At least there is another train, you think. And then the stranger starts to tell his stories, and a Pandora’s box of paranoia is unleashed. What’s common to each of the old man’s tales is an aching sense of alienation, helplessness, and feeling trapped (I think Babysitting hit me hardest, though it’s impossible to choose – more on that in a moment…), with uncomfortable interludes between the boy and the storyteller adding to the novel’s tension (amusingly, the boy is as irritated as he is afraid). All he wants to do is go home, but he’s trapped in the stranger’s game and the train won't come until he chooses his favourite story. “What’s real is what we believe,” says the storyteller. Heaven help the listener who believes these stories to be true… The writing is taut, electric as exposed wiring, and conjures an exquisitely vivid sense of dread. Masterfully macabre, this comes highly recommended for fans of Chris Priestly's chilling Uncle Montague stories, or Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Killer-concept short story collection This variety pack of edgily villainous short stories by an array of top YA talents thrills, enthralls and thoroughly entertains. Short stories regularly get the (erm…) short straw. They’re all too often overlooked in favour of their long-form siblings. But this blast of brilliant writing showcases the smartness of shorter form YA fiction and, moreover, this is no ordinary anthology. Each of the thirteen tales is enhanced with exploratory commentary by top book tubers and bloggers, creating a kaleidoscope of alternate perspectives on villains and villainy. The stories themselves cover pretty much every genre and mood, from fantasy and fairytale reinvention by Ameriie, to top class contemporary writing by Nicola Yoon (other notable contributors include Marissa Meyer, Victoria Schwab and Samantha Shannon). Thought-provoking and fun, this is perfect for dipping into, and for deepening an understanding of what it means to be a villain. ~ Joanne Owen “Readers today are more interactive with authors and one another than ever,” says Ameriie, who dreamed up this project and will contribute a story and foreword as well as edit the anthology. “The booktube community on YouTube has exploded in the last two years, energizing hundreds of thousands of readers around the world, the majority of whom read YA.”
In a nutshell: inventive | readable | hilarious | This collection of 14 rip-roaringly funny stories is a great way to introduce children to Terry Pratchett – indeed, each story is just the right length for bedtime reading – but will have appeal to his existing fans too or, as he wrote in the introduction, to anyone with an imagination. The stories were written when he was a young man working as a junior reporter on a local paper, but the hallmarks of the style that make him one of the most-enjoyed authors of our times are already clear, notably sublimely fantastic and funny set ups, that familiar author voice commenting via footnotes, and some canny, underplayed moral commentary. Highlights include an unusual afternoon in Blackbury, and repeat visits to the town of Llandanffwnfafegettupagogo! Illustrations by Mark Beech capture the silliness and fun. ~ Andrea Reece
In a Nutshell: Summer love | Short stories | Poolside pick-me-up Perfect for dipping into between dips in the pool, this varied seasonal anthology features twelve scorching stories by twelve top YA authors. Following last Christmas’s My True Love Gave to Me collection, this is a stunning summer-themed showcase of the dazzling breadth of current YA authors, including Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo and Veronica Roth. Personal favourites include the beautifully bittersweet trapped-in-time tearjerker, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Lev Grossman), and the satisfyingly sardonic Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron), but the joy of this collection is its variety. It’s a fabulous feast of mix-and-pick treats, from soft-centered romance, to hardboiled thrillers. And the pretty package - a chunky sky-blue hardback resplendent with sunburst yellow edges and pink silk bookmark – makes it an ideal end-of-exam gift to chill-out with. ~ Joanne Owen
Enid Blyton’s short stories are made for summer reading: whether they are about magic, fairies and pixies, or set in the real world of fields, woods and meadows, they exude a sense of happiness, order and content, of children able to influence things for the good especially if they themselves are kind and helpful. It’s irresistible stuff, and don’t forget too that Blyton is the expert at creating page-turning reads; often addressing her readers direct, she concentrates entirely on plot and action, catering for her audience’s voracious appetite for a good story. The 22 stories in this collection are just the right length for children to read themselves, or for parents to read at bedtime, and are as full of adventure and sunshine as anyone could wish. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2017 Debut of the Month | There is something quite wonderful about indulging in your favourite cake, beautifully decorated with sweet delectable icing. Well the same can be said for The Adventures of Miss Petitfour. As well as being a novelist, author Anne Michaels is a poet and this is evident in her beautiful use of language which encourages you to read the words aloud just so you can wrap your tongue around them. This wonderful book contains five stories about our Mary Poppins/Pippi Longstocking/Mary Berry-esque heroine and her wonderful family of cats who trail paw-to-tail behind her as she rides the breeze towards her next adventure. The beautiful illustrations by Emma Block are quite literally the icing on the cake, full of humour and delicious detail. Indeed with this, her first book for children, Anne Michaels has created something that readers of all ages will return to again and again. ~ Shelley Fallows
Children love stories with elements of fantasy and magic and this heartwarming collection of short stories aimed at a 9+ reader is perfect for reading alone or with a parent. Each story in Snake Ring at Risk and Other Stories features a strong moral message and young characters, so it’s easy for 9+ readers to relate to them and understand actions and consequences - the stories are also the perfect length to read before bedtime!John Holroyd is also the author of a folk tale full of magic and danger called The Strange Tale of the Snake Ring.
Longlisted for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal | Although this collection of stories about the First World War opens with familiar lines from Wilfred Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth, it offers new ways to consider the war and the effect it had on the generation who lived through it, powerfully reminding us too why it’s so important we still remember them. Eleven authors have contributed, acclaimed writers from the UK and overseas. Each takes as inspiration an object connected to the war, something iconic like the Victoria Cross featured in Timothée de Fombelle’s story, oras personal as a compass, which indirectly inspires A. L. Kennedy’s, or the soldier’s writing case at the heart of David Almond’s superb A World that Has no War In It. Illustrations are by award-winner Jim Kay, sharp, stuttering shapes that break into the stories, or beautiful full pages, atmospheric and raw. Unmissable. Stories of World War One, edited by Tony Bradman and War Girls edited by Adele Geras are also fine collections featuring first-class authors, the latter telling stories through the eyes of women. Barroux’s striking graphic novel Line of Fire, based on the real diary of an unknown French soldier, makes one man’s experiences into something that all can understand. ~ Andrea Reece --------------------------------------- What did living through the First World War feel like for relatives at home, especially children, as well as for the soldiers fighting at the Front? Eleven stories inspired by objects from the time of the war are beautifully told by internationally acclaimed authors including David Almond, Tracy Chevalier and Michael Morpurgo. From a butter dish made by a young girl whose life is changed by the war in Maud’s Story by Adele Geras to a Brodie helmet complete with a bullet hole in Our Jacko by Michael Morpurgo the stories bring alive the profound effect of the 1914-18 years. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | In a nutshell: shocking levels of sucking-up in super-readable school story | Aidan Abet works hard at school making sure he stays teacher’s pet – it’s the best way of ensuring protection from horrible bullies the (unrelated) Robert and Robin Robinson. But can he win over Miss Vowel, who seems to care more for her growing collection of school pets than any of her pupils? Fortunately for Aidan, he discovers just what makes Miss Vowel’s pets so special and his problems disappear in two shakes of a rat’s tail! Roald Dahl would have appreciated Miss Vowel’s approach to maintaining discipline in the classroom, and there’s a deliciously dark ending to this lively, funny adventure. ~ Andrea Reece Mairi Kidd from Barrington Stoke says: “Guy has done us proud – Aidan Abet is as wickedly funny as any fan of Stitch Head could desire. I honestly can’t remember when I last laughed so hard at a book. Guy hascreated a wonderfully grotesque cast of characters, headed up of course by awful Aidan, for whom I have a ridiculous soft spot, horrid creature though he is. I love Guy’s word-play – that title is an all-time favourite – and I may never forget what Auntie Pauline said about the postman that time…” Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
It’s the perfect time of year for scary stories and there’s a wonderfully varied selection in this excellent collection all written by prize-winning children’s authors. For example, Michael Rosen retells a couple of scary folk tales to deliver thrills with a moral, while Jamie Rix describes the misery suffered by a man whose school dinners return to haunt him – a ghastly thought indeed! Bel Mooney’s story shows that a powerful imagination is not always a good thing, while Ruth Ainsworth tells a ghostly story of loss and remembrance. Chosen by an experienced children's bookseller, the stories are just right for either newly confident independent readers or for sharing with an adult. ~ Andrea Reece
The most loveable of Bears returns with brand-new stories from some of the most beloved children's authors writing today: Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Kate Saunders and Jeanne Willis - each will transport you back into the Hundred Acre Wood for more adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest of the gang. This selection of short stories are perfect bedtime reading for ages six and up. With decorations by Mark Burgess, in the style of the cherished illustrations by E.H. Shepard. This book will delight fans old and new.
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