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We've collected together our very favourite summer reads into this special section. Just click on an age range below to see our selection of summer treats and once you've chosen your story pick the format that suits you best, whether it's physical or digital. The titles will be refreshed throughout the summer months so it will be well worth coming back to take a peek. And there is our usual recommendations for Summer Activity books too. Happy browsing!
Winner of the 2018 Blue Peter Awards - Best Story | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Best-selling Cressida Cowell launches her new series with a title that will delight all fans of the How to Train Your Dragon series. Set deep in an enchanting forest, this is a charming story full of Cowell’s trade mark humour and total command of mystery and magic and how it fits seamlessly into everyday life. From two opposing tribes – the Warriors and the Wizards – come two opposing characters, Xar, a young Wizard boy who has no command of magic and will fight anyone he can in order to get it, and Wish, a Warrior girl who is imbued with all kinds of magic that she should never have had access to. Xar and Wish should never meet and never become friends. But they do and together they brave the hidden dungeons in Warrior Fort to uncover a great mystery. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
May 2018 Book of the Month | All children should grow up with Elmer and this abridged version of the original story, presented as an Elmer-shaped board book, is the perfect first introduction to his particular celebration of difference and acceptance. It’s a good size for parent and child to share and David McKee’s timeless, vibrant illustrations provide so much for even the youngest to look at, enjoy and discuss. ~ Andrea Reece *** Andersen Press invites YOU to join in with Elmer Day and 'show your colours’. You can hold an Elmer parade in a library, a bookshop, a classroom, at home, outside – anywhere! Download an Elmer’s Parade Pack here which includes craft activities, games, colouring sheets, bunting and lots of ideas for holding your own Elmer party!
This is a much-loved classic, but as relevant today as it was when first published in 1969. Now available in this sound-book format so you can actually listen to the Very Hungry Caterpillar as he walks and eats his way through the book that's based on Eric Carle's classic tale. Complete with vivid and colourful illustrations and some very simple text it provides a wonderful story that is immensely satisfying for parents and child alike.
Cheerful and bright, full of pictures of animal families – elephant, penguins, monkeys, seals and lions – and with the added bonus of sound buttons, this will delight the very young. The illustrations will hold their attention and there’s lots to see on every page; chunky tabs make the pages easy to turn, and the sturdy buttons produce satisfyingly loud and jolly animal noises when pushed. This will develop lots of early skills, including hand eye co-ordination, and will be great fun to share too. ~ Andrea Reece
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.
Families come in all shapes and sizes and from all sorts of backgrounds. They speak various languages, eat different sorts of food, live in different kinds of homes and celebrate special occasions in a variety of ways. A celebration of family differences, this is a busy book full of all-embracing illustrations of every kind of family imaginable that are fun to look at time and time again. Beyond just giving pleasure, All About Family is also designed to ensure every child feels that their kind of family is just one of many and not anything unusual. The short accompanying words to each picture briefly and helpfully explain technical terms such a as adoption and fostering. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for July 2018: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talks by Adrian Edmondson All About Families by Felicity Brooks A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker Sleep by Kate Prendergast The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson
This large format board book with its clever round tabs is a great first book to share with pre-school age children. Ten spreads take us to various locations – city, farm, airport and more. In each picture there are bright objects to spot and name and particularly cheery animal characters going about their daily business, waiting at the bus stop, driving a combine harvester, checking in at the airport. Everything is clearly labelled and while there’s no narrative there’s lots of action and the opportunity to talk about what’s going on. Questions challenge the reader to find and count specific items. Vehicles and machines have a starring role in the illustrations too and this will particularly appeal to youngsters with a passion for modes of transport. ~ Andrea Reece There's a companion title, Amazing Machines First Numbers too!
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 Award winning Lane Smith celebrates the simple delights of Cat who loves the warmth of the sun, and Dog who loves the cool of the water, and Bird who loves birdseed. All are set for a perfect day…But then Bear turns up! Suddenly the day looks very different. With almost no words, Lane Smith’s illustrations set the scene of the story brilliantly and then allow the reader to fill in exactly what happens in their own way. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
Bestselling author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Lydia Monks have teamed up for another brilliant picture book. Right in the farmyard among all the noisy animals with their MOOs! and QUACKS! and BAAs! and OINKs! lives a tiny silent ladybird. This beautiful glittery creature (little fingers will love to feel her sparkly shape) is so quiet that she hears two crafty robbers plotting to raid the farmyard. And she comes up with a very clever plan to stop them, helped by the very noisy animals all around her. A wonderful adventure with gorgeous stylised illustrations. ~ Julia Eccleshare Can you find all the words in this special What the Ladybird Heard Picture Wordsearch?
Utterly silly, utterly delightful, Read the Book, Lemmings is a picture book in a million. The main characters are Foxy, First Mate on the SS Cliff and three lemmings, eventually named Jumper, Me Too and Ditto. The ship’s laconic captain acts as chorus. Foxy’s book says that contrary to popular belief, lemmings don’t jump off cliffs. Unfortunately, no-one has told the lemmings who merrily and regularly hurl themselves into the sea. If only Foxy can get them to read the book, then he won’t need to keep rescuing them. The deadpan narrative and flat, stylised artwork accentuate the absurdity of the story and the lemmings are irresistible, like small, wilful but lovable toddlers. Stylish and clever this is a picture book that all readers will enjoy.
Readers will learn how to create the sound of the fart of a T-Rex or a Viking in this super-silly picture book! Bored with life on the farm, Old MacDonald and his animal friends fashion a time-machine (it seems to run on Methane) and go time-travelling. As they zip through the centuries they encounter a flatulent Inca, a right royal stinker (Henry VIII) and a cowgirl who’s filled up on beans... In fact, to what will be the immense satisfaction of fans of this series, everyone they come across is mid-parp. This is the third book detailing parps heard by Old MacDonald, but the format has lost none of its appeal, and this will have young readers hysterical with laughter on every reading. E-I-E-I-O!
July 2018 Book of the Month | Whatever your attitude to vegetables, no-one could resist Supertato and these hilarious, heart-warming stories of supermarket aisle adventures! In this episode, the veggies are bored so Broccoli suggests a game of hide-and-seek. It’s fun, but then Carrot finds a treasure map in a cereal packet, and before you can say three for two the veggies – including Evil Pea – are on the trail! Why does Supertato insist on taking oven gloves on their adventure? Is Evil Pea really a good guy underneath? The answers to these and more questions will be revealed! Great fun to read, text and illustration are both superb, and you’ll believe a potato can be a superhero.
July 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 | A brilliant celebration and evocation of everything to do with the sea. The many, brief poems cover favourite holiday experiences including the excitement of being the first to see the sea, paddling, seagulls and building sandcastles; specific sea creatures such as sharks, limpets and the special fish which live on coral reefs; the drama of the seas in terms of shipwrecks and, more recently, terrible risk the sea is under from human waste. Both the poems and Emily Sutton’s illustrations to them will bring the very special qualities of the sea closer to everyone. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for July 2018: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talks by Adrian Edmondson All About Families by Felicity Brooks A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker Sleep by Kate Prendergast The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson
July 2018 Debut of the Month | The Girls is a glorious and uplifting description of female friendship. It stars four girls and simply but beautifully describes in words and pictures their enduring friendship as they grow from little children into adults. In just 32 pages we get to know the girls really well: adventurous Lottie, practical Sasha, clever Leela and Alice, who can always make them laugh. As a result, we follow the ups and downs of their lives with real interest. The book’s message about the comfort, joy and support friends provide is delivered with real charm and this is a story which will reassure all young readers about what they can achieve and which will inspire them for their futures.
There’s plenty of drama and lots of surprises too in Jane Massey’s delightfully nutty picture book. Gary loves bananas, he loves them so much that on the day that something bad happens, and there are no bananas to be found, he starts seeing them everywhere. Could that be a banana barking at him from the bushes? No, it’s some little golden (banana-shaped) dogs; are those bananas squawking on the telephone wires? No, it’s a flock of birds with huge banana-like beaks. Just before the mistaken-banana-identity theme is exhausted, the story takes a turn for the even sillier, sending Gary into space in a banana-shaped rocket. Seldom have bananas provided so much entertainment, and Gary is a great comic creation; a book that will have children roaring with laughter.
Baby Frank, immediately distinctive in a stripy black and white Babygro, wants a pet. In fact he really, really wants a pet. But his parents won’t allow it, pets are too expensive to keep they say. It leaves Frank with just one option and he becomes a bank robber! Soon he has all the pets he ever wanted, from a meerkat to a rhino, and his parents finally notice. Children will love Frank’s logic and naughtiness and it’s hard to say which illustrations are more fun: the bank heists or the hidden menagerie. Jim Whalley narrates it all in suitably deadpan rhyme while Steve Collins’s witty, expressive illustrations will delight young and old. Great fun!
Award-winning duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks have created a brilliant new adventure for the clever Ladybird, star of What the Ladybird Heard. The Ladybird’s old adversaries, Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, are planning another dastardly crime. This time they are after the Queen’s crown and to get it they plan first to steal a monkey from the zoo. Can the Ladybird, who happens to be on holiday in the same place, stop them? Clever Ladybird comes up with a brilliant plan and, helped by some very noisy Zoo animals, she once again saves the day. Gloriously glittery pages add a sparkle to this delightful and witty story with includes a CD of the story read by Alexander Armstrong.
Lemony Snicket's simply told story offers a refreshing, thoughtful, and hilarious look at the ways in which a bad mood wreaks havoc as it moves from person to person, leaving an unexpected trail of surprise in its wake: opportunities for laughter, forgiveness and even love.
It’s all about the timing in this wonderfully funny picture book. In a cave lives a little creature, a little creature that never leaves its home - turn the page - because of a wolf. The wolf is fierce, determined and hungry and as days pass tries harder and harder to tempt the little creature out of the cave, with no success. All we see of the little creature is its eyes, gazing quietly out in marked contrast to the increasingly frenzied activity of the wolf. Of course there’s a twist coming, and when the little creature finally comes out to play the surprise will have everyone laughing. Rob Hodgson works the suspense brilliantly and this stylish picture is comic and satisfying.
April 2018 Book of the Month Rob Biddulph’s new picture book is another typically happy reading experience. Nine dinosaur eggs (count them) are ready to hatch: out pop Otto, Winnie, Hector, Sue, Nancy, Martin, Wilf and Boo. But what about egg number nine? Greg (short for Gregosaurus) hatches a week late, and by then the other little dinosaurs are already settled in their friendship groups and busy playing. Poor Greg is down in the dumps (there’s even a little raincloud over his head in the illustrations) but don’t fear, he’s in for a lovely surprise. There’s so much to enjoy in this wonderful picture book - a story that is both funny and cheering, a clever rhyming text that is great fun to read aloud, glorious illustrations, and things to count on every page. It’s just brilliant and this Cretaceous crew deserve to be loved as much as Spot, Kipper or the Gruffalo. ~ Andrea Reece
Best-selling duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks have gone back to the farmyard for a second adventure featuring the clever and resourceful ladybird! This time thieves Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len are out to steal the fat red hen. Luckily the little ladybird overhears them discussing their dastardly plan and comes up with a clever trick of her own! The addition of glitter makes the book fun to feel as well as a delight to listen and to follow through its glorious illustrations. ~ Julia Eccleshare What do you think the Snuggly Snerd might look like? Download this special What the Ladybird Heard Activity page!
Rob Biddulph’s new picture book is another typically happy reading experience. Nine dinosaur eggs (count them) are ready to hatch: out pop Otto, Winnie, Hector, Sue, Nancy, Martin, Wilf and Boo. But what about egg number nine? Greg (short for Gregosaurus) hatches a week late, and by then the other little dinosaurs are already settled in their friendship groups and busy playing. Poor Greg is down in the dumps (there’s even a little raincloud over his head in the illustrations) but don’t fear, he’s in for a lovely surprise. There’s so much to enjoy in this wonderful picture book - a story that is both funny and cheering, a clever rhyming text that is great fun to read aloud, glorious illustrations, and things to count on every page. It’s just brilliant and this Cretaceous crew deserve to be loved as much as Spot, Kipper or the Gruffalo.
Interest Age 5-8 | Rose's Dress of Dreams reads like a wonderful fairy tale; the little girl who dreams of beautiful dresses and spends her time drawing designs for fanciful frocks (much to the amusement of her family) grows up to create couture for Paris royalty. In fact Katherine Woodfine's dreamy tale is based up on the life of Rose Bertin, a pioneer of fashion in the court of Marie Antoinette. Rose's dresses are breathtaking works of art, using the finest materials and jewels and lashing of imagination...but first she must serve out her time as an apprentice. Despite the hard work and exhaustion Rose never lets go of her dream. The book is dressed with colourful and ornate artwork from Kate Pankhurst.
Interest Age 5-8 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2019 | A wonderfully entertaining romp of a story with the redoubtable Grandma and ghost of Grandpa Bert at the heart of it. When Grandma arrives to visit Anna and Kasper she brings in her handbag a very unusual travelling companion: the ghost of Grandpa Bert. And with Grandpa Bert comes danger. The Ghost Snatchers are out to get him and Grandma and Anna and Kasper have to their wits about them to stay one step ahead of the two dastardly crooks. Fun to read and attractively illustrated. ............................................. More spy caper than ghost story this is a fun adventure for young readers, and one that puts grandparents nicely in the driving seat of the action too. Anna and Kasper’s Grandma Gertie has an unusual secret in her handbag – the ghost of Grandpa Bert. In itself that’s pretty exciting, but then Grandpa Bert is kidnapped by a gang of ruthless ghost rustlers. Grandma Gertie won’t stand for that, and is straightaway off to the rescue with Anna and Kasper. Short chapters and lots of colour illustrations help make this super-readable, and everyone will want to know what happens at the end. ~ Andrea Reece
Interest Age 5-8 | What a lovely first reading book! Something exciting is happening at school – there’s a paddling pool in the playground, the children are in their swimming costumes – and so are the teachers… It’s Splash Day, a giant water fight the summer reward for everyone’s hard work. What a treat – and it’s a treat to read too. Nick Sharratt’s bright, bold illustrations provide clues so that working out what the words say becomes a kind of game, fun rhymes making it easier still to decode the letters. Splish, splash, splosh – get yourself a copy.
The best-selling author of The Gruffalo deploys a story-telling device equally full of cunning in this witty story about the way a King is tricked into doing some work. The King demands his favourite meal – fish and chips. The Cook is frightened of all things he needs to do to cook fish and chips; he’s too frightened to fish because he might get his apron wet, or dig potatoes because he hates worms or to chop up the potatoes because he might cut himself with a very sharp knife. But is that just a ruse? Soon the King is cooking his very own fish and chips – and loving every moment of it! David Robert’s blustering King and wimpy Cook are a delight.
July 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | 2018 sees the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and this is a wonderful book to introduce children to one of the most inspiring figures of modern times. The text takes the form of questions from Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren Zazi and Ziwelene to their Grandma Zindzi. As she answers them, readers learn about Mandela and his years in prison, why he was arrested, what he was fighting for and the joy there was on his release. They’ll understand the hardships his children and family endured, and how they kept themselves strong. They’ll also take away the word ‘ubuntu’ - ‘I am because we all are’. The narrative puts readers at the heart of the story while Sean Qualls’s evocative illustrations reveal even more about Mandela’s fight for fairness and freedom.
June 2018 Book of the Month | A story of kindness and the unexpected friendships that result from it, Mr Pegg’s Post will charm readers young and old. Anna lives in a lighthouse by the edge of the sea with her mum and dad. It’s wild and lovely, but a bit lonely. When Mr Pegg their seabird postman is injured in a storm, Anna volunteers to help him deliver the mail. It’s hard work but fun, and when Mr Pegg’s wing heals, and he can once again deliver the post on his own, she feels lonelier than ever. Fortunately, the new friends she’s made on the rounds haven’t forgotten her and there’s a lovely surprise delivery of letters, and one very special parcel from Mr Pegg. There is a great activity pack to accompany this title, with craft ideas and a template for your own postcard.
July 2018 Book of the Month | Beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, Ocean Meets Sky is a celebration of love and the imagination, and a wonderful book to prompt discussion of loss, particularly of a grandparent. Finn has vivid memories of his grandfather and the exciting stories he told. On the day his grandfather would have been 90, Finn builds a boat out of junk and leftover bits of wood. Falling asleep, he dreams an amazing adventure where, in the company of a golden fish, he visits the magical place his grandfather described, where ocean meets sky. Surrounded by whales, strange vessels and starbright jellyfish, he floats up to the moon and finds it has his grandfather’s face, until his mother’s voice calls him home for supper. With a rare sense of silence and wonder this is a story to pore over, to share and to return to again and again.
Who better to enjoy the delights of the seaside and the high seas than Winnie the Witch and her longsuffering cat Wilbur? There are three different stories in this bumper edition and the two enjoy some typically exuberant and surprising adventures at the beach, as pirates, and in some magical deep sea diving. Korky Paul’s quirky, detailed illustrations make the most of Valerie Thomas’ ever-inventive texts and there are new things to spot on each separate reading - no wonder Winnie and Wilbur are so well-loved by young readers and their families. ~ Andrea Reece
By the always-current Sophy Henn this new series for children just starting to read on their own is to be celebrated. Jeanie, aged 7 ¾, has a special relationship with her grandma, known to the family as Bad Nana. She doesn’t mind her name, in fact, Jeanie says, ‘I think she quite likes it’. Bad Nana isn’t really bad, and if she’s often up-to-no-good, completely embarrassing or a little bit cheeky, she’s always good fun. There’s certainly lots of fun to be had in the different stories Jeanie shares with us. Children are fascinated by the way old people have a license to misbehave, and they will be delighted by Bad Nana’s exploits which break all the rules of good behaviour. The illustrations, also by Sophy Henn, are stylish and distinctive, but children will immediately recognise themselves in Jeanie. This lovely, hugely appealing book is one to recommend to fans of Lauren Child and her Clarice Bean stories in particular.
May 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 A wonderfully warm-hearted animal adventure based on Zeb Soanes observation of a local urban fox. Waking up hungry one evening, Gaspard sets out to find something to eat. Luckily, he quickly makes two new friends - Peter a rather cool cat and Finty a frisky dog who has dug a way out of his garden so that he can roam the streets without an owner. Helped by his new friends Gaspard secures himself a delicious meal and returns happy and FULL. The three friends and their adventure and the urban landscape of the setting are all perfectly captured in James Mayhew’s illustrations. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman Based on a real urban fox from north London. Gaspard has become a social media celebrity, with over 4K Twitter followers @GaspardTheFox, his own website, www.gaspardthefox.com, and e-newsletter, ‘Fox News’.
May 2018 Book of the Month | | Interest Age 5-8 | The villagers in this charming story rely on their telephone for different reasons and when the local line is damaged in a storm they are all affected. Margaret can't organise her May Fair, Jean can't keep in touch with her family and Will's mum might miss the latest naughty escapades her son has got up to! After the telephone company arrives to fix the wires things get more complicated as the houses are mistakenly connected to the wrong number and confusion reigns. But as the neighbours have to relay messages to each other the community starts to grow closer. Based upon true events this is a heartwarming tale of friendship and solidarity borne out of adversity, with the uplifting message that co-operation and kindness brings the highest rewards.
Award-winning duo Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks have created a brilliant new adventure for the clever Ladybird, star of What the Ladybird Heard. The Ladybird’s old adversaries, Lanky Len and Hefty Hugh, are planning another dastardly crime. This time they are after the Queen’s crown and to get it they plan first to steal a monkey from the zoo. Can the Ladybird, who happens to be on holiday in the same place, stop them? Clever Ladybird comes up with a brilliant plan and, helped by some very noisy Zoo animals, she once again saves the day. Gloriously glittery pages add a sparkle to this delightful and witty story. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Donaldson says “In the last Ladybird story, I had ruled out the thieves returning to the farm, so I needed a different setting this time around. I wrote What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday while on a book tour in South Africa and the animals I saw there gave me the idea for the new adventure. I was excited when I discovered that the Royal corgis are called Holly and Willow, as I had already written a lot of the story and needed rhymes for ‘golly’ and ‘pillow’ - it seemed meant to be!” Lydia Monks says “I was so thrilled to get to go on holiday with the little ladybird! We meet some new friends and visit some new places. A perfect holiday treat!” Can you match the animals on this special What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday Activity Page?
July 2018 Book of the Month | In Book 2 of this phenomenal series Harry Potter, a boy wizard, is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last......even getting there is an adventure in itself! This special House edition has been published to mark the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and is available in both paperback and hardback. Last year saw the special House Editions for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone issued - find them here. The Special House Editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are: Gryffindor Hardback, Paperback Hufflepuff Hardback, Paperback Ravenclaw Hardback, Paperback Slytherin Hardback, Paperback
July 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 | A wonderfully funny romp of a story full of all kinds of imaginative nonsense including a cast of talking animals. Young Jack is an unlucky boy; his father vanished before he was born and his mother is in prison for a crime she swears she didn’t commit. As a result, Jack must live with his horrible uncle and cousin with only a cupboard for a bedroom. Driven by his passion for horses, Jack finds solace with an aged scrap-yard owner and his two horses with some very surprising skills of their own! It’s a friendship that leads Jack into a wonderful adventure I which he fulfils all of his wildest dreams. Unlikely and carefree, this is a perfect story for reading aloud. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for July 2018: A First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies Junkyard Jack and the Horse That Talks by Adrian Edmondson All About Families by Felicity Brooks A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker Sleep by Kate Prendergast The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle The Cook and the King by Julia Donaldson
Mermaids Beattie, Zelda and Mimi are absolutely fabulous! Their second adventure streams by, full of underwater hi-jinks all driven by friendship and fun. The little mermaids are in the Crocodile Kingdom (it’s in the middle of the Indian Ocean) where nothing is quite as it seems. Meanwhile, on land Paris, self-described Gadget Queen, has discovered a plot to destroy the mermaid world. With gorgeous illustrations by Jason Cockroft too, this is stylish, irresistible reading for anyone who’s ever imagined themselves with a tail. If you’ve got young readers in the house, send yourself a crabagram reminder to get a copy. Required reading for fans of Sibeal Pounder’s Witch Wars series or The Little Mermaid.
Football is the world’s most popular sport, and the world cup will see millions of people across the globe united in their love of the game. This book will fascinate any fan. It covers all aspects of the game, from early history to modern times, focussing on the people, teams, cups and leagues as well as the moves, the tactics and the places too that make football what it is today. While there are 50 different chapters, you’ll certainly learn more than 50 different things. Pages feature colour photographs making it very appealing to look at while short paragraphs of text in panels mean it’s just right for dipping into, or for catching the eye of reluctant readers. Top of the league stuff! ~ Andrea Reece
June 2018 Book of the Month | More delightful small-scale fun and big adventure in this new story starring toy rabbit family the Twitches and their owner, Stevie. Two stories run parallel: Stevie and her mum are having a party to get to know their new neighbours and have baked a cake. Steve is feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation, worried about meeting new people and anxious that she won’t make any new friends. Meanwhile, the two youngest Twitches Silver and Fig, are cheekily making a cake of their own. The two stories converge, and by the end Stevie are her new friend Eshe are playing happily with the Twitches – and wondering why they are smeared with icing! The story provides excitement and reassurance alike, showing youngsters that change can be good. The Twitches are charming little characters and Pippa Curnick’s illustrations are very appealing.
You’d expect a book by top comic-for-kids James Campbell to make them laugh a lot, and this certainly will. Over 240 illustrated pages he explores the life of pets, in ways that range from the anecdotal to the surreal. Though it’s definitely not an information book, there are some truths slipped in – e.g. Byron took his pet bear to Cambridge University with him – but mostly it’s sheer stream-of-consciousness what-if musings and if it’s unlikely to make readers laugh so much that their knees will fall off, as the cover claims, it will at the very least shake them loose! Illustrator Rob Jones deserves a shout out too for his inventive and varied cartoons.
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.
In a nutshell: comic-book inspired crime story | The action in this exciting crime story is set in a comic shop, and come-strip sensibilities inspire the whole adventure. The Cosmic Comic Shop and adjoining café are threatened with closure by ruthless developers and the one thing that might cover the rent and save the day is a rare edition of a Komodo Jones comic. When it disappears, young friends Zac and Coco set out to find the villains, using everything they’ve learned from reading about Komodo and her crime-solving techniques. They are as lively a pair of protagonists as you could hope to meet and there are twists, turns and surprises galore as the story unfolds. Each chapter opens with a Komodo Jones comic front cover – someone should publish those stories too! ~ Andrea Reece One to recommend to fans of the Ruby Redfort stories by Lauren Child.
In a nutshell: another inventive, clever and hugely appealing story There’s great excitement in the Smith-Pickle household when an old egg given to Eddie by Uncle Morton suddenly appears to be hatching. It’s clearly something very special and the cute little feathery creature that emerges has a strange effect on dragons: they seem to be both drawn to it, and terrified of it. With seven dragons in the garden, sporadically trying to attack the little fledgling in the house, no wonder Eddie’s Mum is cross. As ever the story is recounted through Eddie’s emails to Uncle Morton and it makes for fast, funny and highly entertaining reading. This is book nine in a consistently excellent series. ~ Andrea Reece
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | In a nutshell: new and old friends united in classic Jacqueline Wilson story Jacqueline Wilson’s historical novels tell vivid, enthralling stories about young girls in testing situations, and Rose Rivers is classic Wilson. Rose is the daughter of a wealthy family – her father is a respected artist, though their wealth comes from her mother, or rather her grandfather, a mill owner. Rose loves to sketch, a great way of getting her father’s attention, but is frustrated by the restrictions on her life, and her mother’s expectations for her. The family has a large staff, and it’s the arrival of two new servants that provides the catalyst for change in Rose’s life. They are a new ‘nurse’ for Rose’s sister Beth, who has challenging learning disabilities; and our old friend Clover Moon, who becomes a real and valuable friend to Rose. The Victorian setting is very well described, but the real issues are timeless: friendship, family, finding your independence. ~ Andrea Reece
Best-selling Australian author/ illustrator Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton have created a fantastical treehouse which will tickle the imagination of all readers. It’s a house with everything – and if there is something it lacks, it can easily be created! The guys are full of crazy and inventive ideas some of which have very unexpected and disastrous results. When Andy and Terry aren’t having fun in their tree house doing terrible things like turning their neighbour’s cat into a canary they are meant to be writing a book! The jokes about the book being created within a book are good. ~ Julia Eccleshare
In a nutshell: can one boy and four iguanas save the world? You betcha There might be a lot of superhero books around at the moment, but Iguana Boy proves that there’s plenty of wear yet in the genre’s cape, and a real twang to its underpants elastic! Dylan has given up on developing a superpower – particularly annoying as both brother and sister have one – when suddenly he discovers he can talk to his pet iguana, Paul, and indeed to all iguanas. It might not be the most obvious superpower, but when the Platypus Kid launches a bid for world domination, Iguana Boy is there to take her on. Dylan and his band of iguana sidekicks make great central characters and the story is told in a fun mix of text and tongue-in-cheek comic strip. Daft, original, funny and full of surprises, Iguana Boy is a real treat. Shelve next to My Brother is a Superhero, Hamish and the Worldstoppers and Kid Normal. ~ Andrea Reece
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | The three stories in Anne Fine’s new Weird Street collection are guaranteed to send delicious shivers down the spine, even on the hottest summer day. In classic Gothic tradition, the narrative is passed from one storyteller to another: three children, neighbours on Weir (aka Weird) Street share local ghost stories. Laila’s tale has a happy ending, but is just uncanny enough to unsettle us; Asim’s story is both scary and tragic, haunting in every sense; while Tom’s is seriously creepy. Anne Fine is a superb writer and knows just how to turn the psychological screw. Highly readable, the stories will deliver their chills on each re-reading too. ~ Andrea Reece Perfect to thrill and chill, and particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or 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.
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.
Riga is the setting for this fairy-tale like adventure, and the city is depicted so clearly that it’s almost a character in the story. Jacob lives with his father and, often lonely, distracts himself by drawing maps of the city and dreaming about its myths, especially the one that says when the city is finally complete, all building work finished, its river will rise up and flood the streets. When he’s sent across town to stay with his uncle and cousin, he finds himself caught up in a battle against developers with – of all things – a pack of talking dogs at his side. The real world and magic mix in a story that will wriggle its way into children’s imaginations and stay there for a long time.
This is an absolutely cracking whiz-bang of a story. Set in an unreality, that is actually scarily real, it plays with your mind and really, really makes you think! Johnny Maxwell loves video games, while shooting invading spaceships, he finds himself contacted by an alien race, suddenly the game is real, can Johnny save the day? This is as valid today, as when it was first written in the early 1990’s, though Terry Pratchett made some updates, along with an authors note in 2013. He explains that Only You Can Save Mankind was written during the first Gulf War when TV computer games about war were in their infancy, the news was showing constant, sometimes even live updates about the war, and so the lines between pretend and real were become very blurred indeed. Terry Pratchett excels in setting questions about mankind for you to ponder without you realising it, all the while enjoying a wild fantastical ride. No one else quite has his magical touch, his books are so witty, thoughtful and wise. Only You Can Save Mankind is the first in a quite spectacular trilogy and another must read from the the truly wonderful Terry Pratchett. ~ Liz Robinson Browse inside!
Race to the Bottom of the Sea is a well-written, thoroughly unusual, thought-provoking pirate story, and a rip-roaring adventure. Our hero 11-year old Fidelia Quail has grown up with the sea in her blood: ever since she was a baby she’s accompanied her marine biologist parents on their travels. In the book’s dramatic opening, she’s on the surface tracking sharks while her parents record life on the seabed, until their submarine – designed and built by Fidelia – is destroyed by the deadly ‘Undertow’. Still grieving, Fidelia is kidnapped by the notorious pirate Merrick the Monstrous and forced to build a diving suit that will allow her to retrieve his treasure, hidden in an undersea cave and believed cursed. It’s an ingenious mix of buccaneering, science and oceanography, with a surprise touch of romance too, and Fidelia is a one in a million hero. Great stuff and one to recommend to fans of Philip Reeve, Christopher Edge and Jonathan Stroud.
David Solomons is a simply brilliant writer for children and his My Brother is a Super-Hero series is consistently funny, entertaining and true. Indeed, the further-fetched the stories get, the more rooted they are in real life. As fans know, Luke was cruelly robbed of the super-powers that should have been his when Zorbon the Decider bestowed them on his swotty big brother Zack. But now the situation is reversed (sort of) because on their way back from a parallel Earth, Zack and Luke swapped bodies – Luke’s 11 year old mind is in Zack’s 14 year old body, and vice versa. The stage is set for another hilarious but properly exciting story, situation comedy and mistaken identity gags sitting alongside super-hero in-jokes. It all comes to a climax at the wonderfully-named Great Minds Leisure Park, where Luke confronts a worthy arch-enemy!
July 2018 Book of the Month | In Book 2 of this phenomenal series Harry Potter, a boy wizard, is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last......even getting there is an adventure in itself! This special House edition has been published to mark the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and is available in both paperback and hardback. Last year saw the special House Editions for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone issued - find them here. The Special House Editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are: Gryffindor Hardback, PaperbackHufflepuff Hardback, Paperback Ravenclaw Hardback, PaperbackSlytherin Hardback, Paperback
Cathy Cassidy has a talent for writing positive and life-affirming stories even though they’re about young people facing really difficult situations. Sami’s story is almost too sad to be told. He’s a refugee from Syria, and lost his father, mother and little sister in the Mediterranean as they tried to reach the safety of Europe. That story is told through the pages of his notebook, but it’s interspersed with the story of his life now, living in England with his aunt and uncle and playing in the band Lost and Found. The friendship of the other band members is the best healing possible, and he has a special friend in Lexie, star of the first book in this series. Sub-plots provide light relief, e.g. when Marley recruits tone-deaf Bobbi-Jo into the band convinced her record-producer dad will make them stars. It’s a lovely and very successful mix of music, friendships and the power that comes from kindness and compassion, and classic Cathy Cassidy.
Hot on the heels of the first Rory Branagan adventure comes this new story and The Dog Squad is every bit as sharp and quirky, and possibly even funnier. Dogs in Rory’s neighbourhood are going missing and he’s determined to track down the thieves, especially when his beloved Wilkins Welkin is snatched. Confined to his bedroom, his foot in a surgical boot, Rory can only watch as his associate Cassidy sneaks into the chief suspect’s house. It’s all a bit Rear Window in fact, but with the added joys of a comic dog fight, the intervention of Mrs Welkins and her slipper, and Rory’s big brother’s nascent moustache. Meanwhile Rory’s efforts to find out why his father left them continue and two new clues are revealed. This parallel plotline adds an extra layer and touch of genuine poignancy while Ralph Lazar’s illustrations match the text in wit and idiosyncrasy.
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.
William Wenton is something of a bionic boy; half of his body is a hi-tech metal called luridium, and this gives him special mental powers. But something – or someone – is interfering with it, causing him all sort of problems and putting his life in danger. He’s recalled to the mysterious Institute for Post-Human Research, but quickly discovers he’s not save there either. It seems even his old friends aren’t to be trusted, and there are some very ruthless people out to get him. Technology, intrigue and double-double crossings make this a thrilling adventure for fans of Alex Rider, and it all comes to a terrific climax on the snowy mountains of the Himalayas.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Full of hope and wonder but also shot through with deep feelings of sadness this is a beautiful story about the importance of belonging. Azi’s home is with his grandfather on a Mediterranean island but he has always known that it isn’t where he was born. When Grandfather goes missing Azi, together with the dog who has befriended him and a young girl who is visiting the island, sets out to find him and to discover the truth about where he really comes from. Sarah Lean has created an original and touching story based on true stories about migration. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A new story for that best of all dogs, McTavish, and another delicious helping of wry, insightful observation on human and family life. McTavish’s efforts to help the Peachey family become happier and more organised still has a way to go, but he’s an intelligent dog and up to the job. When the family embark on a camping holiday in a remote but beautiful bit of Scotland, McTavish needs all his cleverness and patience to show them how to relax and properly enjoy themselves. McTavish is an irresistible character, his gentle guiding of the Peacheys is very funny indeed, and this beautifully story will leave all readers smiling. ~ Andrea Reece 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.
Aru Shah is an average twelve-year old, not particularly attentive at school, but keenly aware of the importance of fitting in, which sometimes leads her to lie to impress her classmates. So when she’s caught out at home in her Spider-man pyjamas, not Paris as she’d claimed, she does the only thing she can to reclaim credibility and lights the cursed lamp her mother has told her always to avoid. That awakens a demon who in turn aims to wake up the Lord of Destruction, and bring about the end of the world. Only Aru and another kid Mini can stop it. It helps that they’re both reincarnations of the Pandava brothers and descended from the gods, and that they have a pigeon-shaped divine sidekick, Boo. Their adventures are as thrilling as any of Percy Jackson’s as they face a terrifying set of monsters all out to kill them. It makes great reading, and Aru keeps up a running commentary that is very funny indeed.
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | In a nutshell: gods and monsters, heroism and humour | The Burning Maze is book three in Riordan’s The Trials of Apollo series, and the best yet. It opens with Apollo, trapped on Earth in the form of spotty teenager Lester Papadopoulos, struggling through an underground Labyrinth. He and his companions, pushy twelve-old demigod called Meg, and satyr Grover Underwood, are on the trail of one of the five great Oracles, racing to find it before it falls into the hands of an evil Roman emperor. They barely make it to the end of the first chapter before they’re attacked by monsters … No-one can beat Riordan for action scenes, and Apollo’s sardonic running commentary on his misery is very funny indeed. We’re used to him being arrogant, selfish and annoying, but could there be signs that he’s changing, and becoming – gulp – a bit more human, as well as mortal? One thing’s for certain, the ending will surprise everyone, and leave readers desperate for the next instalment. Riordan rules! ~ Andrea Reece
Perfect for readers who enjoy magical adventures set in the wild world, Sylvia Linsteadt’s beautifully told story stars two children called upon to be brave and resolute, and has starring roles too for talking animals. Tin has grown up in the bleak environment of the City, taught to believe that everything beyond its walls is dead or dangerous; Comfrey is a country child, getting by on what her family can grow, and cautious of the mysterious Wild Folk. The children must work together to unite warring factions before it’s too late for everyone. Like the best fantasy adventures, the story feels as though it has grown out of legends passed down through generations, while at the same time conveying a topical message about the way nature and mankind’s future are inextricably linked. ** Note the extract available is a manuscript of the text only.
April 2018 Book of the Month The penultimate in the series, Beyond The Odyssey continues with poor Elliot’s life becoming more difficult by the day. The situation with his mum is desperate and poor Hermes is still in a coma, but there is a glimmer of hope as Elliot hears of a potion that is rumoured to cure all. Yet even the gods doubt its existence and even if it does exist it won’t be easy to find. And so they set out on yet another quest to find the third chaos stone AND the mythical potion in an attempt to cure his mum and Hermes, whilst saving the world from evil Deamon of Death, Thanatos. No pressure there then! This series just keeps getting better and better and Maz will have you crying tears of laughter and sadness whilst cheering on our hero as we watch him face his toughest challenge yet. Superb, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the fourth and final instalment to this epic tale of courage, heartache and heroism. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher ‘What I like about the classical gods is that they are so true to life. Wild, naughty, emotional and unpredictable, they carry on a bit like us humans – but with superpowers! Of course, in this story our hero Elliot has some serious real life problems to deal with too, and so Maz Evans takes us on a funny yet thoughtful romp. Hold on to your pants because you are likely to lose everything else!’
James Patterson creates books kids love, and his latest book is all about a boy who decides to create books kids love by setting up his own book company. Jimmy is determined to follow his dream of a company run by kids for kids, despite the scepticism of parents, teachers and the bank. The story mixes real life and fantasy, and along the way slips lots of recommendations for other unputdownable children’s books from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, the book that inspires Jimmy to keep trying no matter what. It could have sunk under the weight of self-reference (the book also mentions lots of Patterson’s own children’s books) but the author knows what he’s doing and the pacey narrative, variety of scenes and events, and Jimmy’s straight-to-camera narrative keeps the pages turning nicely.
In a nutshell: exciting new adventure for the deservedly popular Emily Windsnap An idyllic holiday in the sun with her parents and best friends turns into a testing adventure for mer-girl Emily, and she finds herself caught up in an ancient prophecy. As ever, it makes for very exciting reading, Emily’s first-person narrative keeping things both immediate and completely recognisable for readers, even if she does swap her legs for a tail when she’s in water. What really sets this series apart though is what goes on beneath the surface, and the stories explore themes of tolerance, understanding and identity – all issues that are particularly important for the readership. There’s a big surprise at the end of this story, and an unexpected separation, but in true Emily Windsnap style, readers can be reassured that the bonds of friendship are as strong as ever. ~ Andrea Reece
Twins Ben and Fee will be the envy of children everywhere: their school is a tall ship and alongside ordinary lessons they learn seamanship and how to sail. No surprise therefore that there’s plenty of opportunity for adventure, which in this latest episode actually takes place on land, although in Australia, the end point of their latest voyage. The action is pretty well non-stop, and in a satisfying sub-plot, some of the threats come from the actions of an unprincipled group of fellow-students. This is another thrilling adventure with an underlying message about fair-play and doing the right thing.
February 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: an evacuee story as imagined by the one and only Jacqueline Wilson Queen of contemporary fiction, Jacqueline Wilson is now setting her stories in the past, but they’re not one bit less lively, immediate or relevant to young people for that. For her 106th book she’s chosen to write a story of evacuees. Shirley is a bit of a misfit, a daydreamer, which irritates her mum, happiest with imaginary friends. Awkward and shy, she’s one of the last evacuees from her school to be adopted and is finally forced on a wealthy elderly lady and her housekeeper together with two boys similarly rejected. The arrival of the three youngsters shakes up the household, and what follows is vintage Wilson, full of incident and adroitly described relationships, and with an emotional and dramatic urgency that will keep readers turning the pages compulsively until the eventual happy ending. Nick Sharratt’s illustrations are as funny and heart-rending as the text. ~ Andrea Reece
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 Swept along by the wind and sea and suffused with magic and mystery this is an ebullient adventure story that compels its readers to believe just as the young hero Fionn begins to do. Sent to stay on the wild Arranmore Island with his reclusive grandfather, Fionn enters a world dominated by the forces of magic – and by water which has always terrified Fionn. Gradually, Fionn begins to understand his grandfather’s now fading power as to accept and embrace his own new destiny. Catherine Doyle has a lightness of touch as a story-teller that makes the impossible convincing. J
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.
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!
July 2018 Book of the Month | In Book 2 of this phenomenal series Harry Potter, a boy wizard, is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last......even getting there is an adventure in itself! This special House edition has been published to mark the 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and is available in both paperback and hardback. Last year saw the special House Editions for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone issued - find them here. The Special House Editions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are: Gryffindor Hardback, PaperbackHufflepuff Hardback, Paperback Ravenclaw Hardback, PaperbackSlytherin Hardback, Paperback
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
Following hot on the heels of Resurrection, this eleventh instalment of Skulduggery Pleasant’s incomparable exploits offers everything devoted fans have come to expect - all-out action, astonishing twists, riotously witty repartee – and more, for this latest epic ramps up the stakes on the emotional front. Intrepid, intelligent, endlessly entertaining Valkyrie Cain is no stranger to fighting to keep her friends and family from harm, but this gripping story sees her having to face her biggest battle yet when a cruel killer captures her little sister, Alice. Worse still, she has just twelve hours to track her down. The sense of urgency and anxiety is heart-poundingly evoked, and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering more about Omen.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 | Award-winning Frances Hardinge’s latest novel bubbles over with brilliant ideas in a fast-paced and thought-provoking adventure encompassing families, a very special kind of haunting, spying and the English Civil War. Twelve year Makepeace has grown up practising how to defend herself against spirits who go in search of another living being to inhabit when they are released from the dead. Makepeace is skilful at defence but, when grieving the death of her mother, she lets her guard down and is filled with the spirit of a bear. But Bear is a friend as much as a foe and now Makepeace has a strong internal allay who may be exactly what she needs when she goes to stay with her father’s terrifying family whom she needs to resist at all costs. Frances Hardinge’s beautiful writing makes the unbelievable credible and tangible as she weaves together and then unravels layer upon layer of complexities in this substantial and deeply story.
Cape Town is the setting for Jaco Jacobs’ quirky adventure, but the emotions described will be familiar to all young readers. It’s the holidays and Marnus is bored, fed up too of being pushed around by his wheeler-dealer little brother, overlooked by his parents, and teased by his big brother. Everything changes when he meets Leila; within minutes he’s drawn into her campaign to save a tree in the local park, and actually camped out in its branches in defiance of the man from the water board, and his own mum. Their joint protest turns Marnus and Leila into special friends, and introduces them to a host of other eccentric characters too. When Marnus finally goes home, he’s quite a different boy. A lovely story about the importance of standing up for what you believe in and accepting who you are. Readers who relish Marnus’ adventure will also enjoy The Wilderness War by Julia Green.
The brilliant, irresistible and gorgeously romantic new novel from Jenny McLachlan, the breakout star of young, laugh-out-loud teen fiction. Annie is a teenager. She’s feisty, passionate about life and her independence, doesn’t want to depend on anyone oh and she has cerebral palsy. For the first time ever she is stepping out in life on her own terms as she begins college. No mum, no learning support assistant – just Annie. And that’s exactly how she likes it. So it’s a slight inconvenience when she meets Fab, a young polish student who she sits next to in class. Fab is different. He is full of zest for life, good natured, kind, a little unusual, and has taken an instant shine to Annie. Of course they don’t hit it off straight away due to a misunderstanding but he has a certain charm that she soon finds hard to resist and I must admit to thinking how everyone could do with a Fab in their life. Truly, Wildly, Deeply is a Wuthering Heights fuelled love story that will sweep you away. Warm, strong, likeable characters and a girl who has battled prejudice and for the right be seen for the girl she is rather than her disability. Fab was wonderful; a lovely, unique teenager who is drawn to Annie and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the both of them and following their journey as they slowly discovered that life is a whole lot brighter with each other. A story about love, friendship and that there is more to a person that what you see on the outside and also, just as importantly, that you can be part of something special without losing your identity. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. Perfect for fans of Louise Rennison and Holly Smale.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Inspiring WW1 against-the-odds adventure | It’s 1916 and fourteen-year-old Angelique is working on the family farm when she learns that her detested father has been killed in action, while her beloved brother Pascal is still at war. To Angelique, Mother’s grief seems excessive - “How could she have loved father so?” she wonders, and so we wonder what kind of man he was while she focuses all her energy on keeping the farm afloat. Angelique’s strength is formidable. She’s admirably forthright, a force to be reckoned with, especially when adversity escalates and so, with the support of her dear Uncle Gustav, she hatches a plan that might just save the farm. They will venture through France to sell her brother's flock of glorious geese to the Commander-in-Chief of the Somme. Blending real-life hardships and the horrors of WWI with an overarching fairy tale-esque adventure, this is a classic David versus Goliath story in which a girl steps up to fight multiple Goliaths with large doses of determination, wit and a willingness to take risks. Highly recommended. ~ Joanne Owen
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is the first bestselling book in Rick Riordan's phenomenally successful Percy Jackson series - now with a new cover look. Half boy. Half God. ALL Hero. This title tells the author story. Like Percy Jackson?...They'll love Fenn Halflin and Monster Hunter.
Brimming with coming-of-age dilemmas, romance and tonnes of transformative on-the-road experiences, this is an ideal summer read for fans of friendship-driven contemporary YA. Introverted history fanatic Abby has had it with feeling abandoned, what with Mom having left the family home and best friend Riya leaving their Californian hometown for Berlin. Moreover, she and Riya parted on bad terms and life hasn’t been the same since. But now, thanks to Riya’s grandmother, they have an opportunity to fix their fractured friendship during a two-week trip around Europe. Being chaperoned by Riya’s cousin is initially annoying, but he and Abby find themselves bonding while things run less smoothly for her and Riya. Matters come to a head in Edinburgh when Riya’s secret is revealed, and the eruptions they experience in Iceland aren’t only of a volcanic nature… “Funny how life has a few of those visible moments, where you can actually see someone turn a corner,” Abby observes, which captures the heart of this novel. Growing up can suck - people evolve, they move, they move on, but that doesn’t mean a friendship has to end, and it doesn’t mean you’re left behind.
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
Zoe and X are soulmates, even though she’s a 21st century teenager and he’s a bounty hunter from the Lowlands, ie Hell. They were brought together in The Edge of Everything, but separated at the end when he sacrificed himself for her and returned to the Lowlands. But never say forever – in this equally torrid and thrilling episode the two are reunited, Zoe recklessly plunging into the underworld to find X, now involved in a search for his missing mother. The book’s appeal lies not just in its steamy romance; Zoe is a sharp, appealing character and readers will love the supporting cast too. Despite being set in Hell, there are a surprising numbers of laughs while the ending will satisfy everyone.
June 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: themes of fatherhood, memory and guilt explored in haunting YA novella Mal Peet, who died in 2015, wrote with extraordinary sensitivity and insight and this novella, freshly published by Barrington Stoke, is testimony to his talent. Benjamin finds himself by accident outside his old home and revisits memories of the garden and treehouse that 20 years ago were such a key part of his childhood. His father built the treehouse for him but it quickly changed from being a place of shared stories to something less happy – a hideaway from his mother, a hiding place for his father as he turned away from the outside world. The story is a painful one, years on Ben is still torn by conflicting loyalties, still angry with his father, still guilty for abandoning him. His return brings some new perspectives, but no happy resolution. Emma Shoard’s new illustrations equal the text for rawness, depth and resonance. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 14+ Illustrator, Emma Shoard says: “After much anticipation, I am so happy to be working on this beautiful story by Mal Peet. There is so much depth and reality to the relationship between his characters; I hope to illustrate something of those spacious places he has created in between the lines. The huge, ancient beech tree at the centre of this story is a real treat for an illustrator.” 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.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | In a Nutshell: Summer of romance, revelations, friendship and feuds Stars collide and sparks fly in this electrifying story of a wildly unforgettable summer. Thought-provoking, funny and flooded with energy, this is contemporary YA at it’s finest. After discovering an unpleasant revelation about her dad, astronomy buff Zorie agrees to go on a glamping trip organised by a drifting friend. The trip goes hideously wrong when the group is expelled from the fancy site and wind up setting up camp out in the bear-ridden wilderness. Matters further disintegrate when Zorie and Lennon, her former best friend and sometime boyfriend, are left alone in the wilds with no transport, and a whole lot of frazzled history between them. Add to this a family feud, unvoiced anger and raging hormones, and the stage is set for an explosive story that’s played-out against a majestic wilderness backdrop. There’s something majestic about Lennon too - his thoughtfulness, his respect for the wild, his respect for Zorie, who also had me hooked from the off. She’s genuine, witty, knows who she is and deals with life’s challenges with strength and maturity. Both she and Lennon kick off clichés and well-worn tropes at every turn, and I relished every moment of their story. ~ Joanne Owen
This smart sci-fi-infused thriller sees a group of friends faced with having to make the mother of all life and death decisions. The night Bee decides to visit her estranged friends one year on from the mysterious death of her enigmatic boyfriend, Jim, ends with them involved in a car accident, and then they’re dealt a gut-wrenching revelation by a strange old man. Initially dismissive, the friends are soon hit by the realisation that the stranger isn’t just some random crazy, and they really must make the hideous decision he issues them with. While the rest of the group dive into destruction mode, Bee makes some profound realisations: “Without time, nothing had meaning.” Throughout Bee is an engaging narrator, her language and thoughts incisive, measured, lucidly poetic. As her world implodes, she wonders if their situation is somehow because of Jim, whose “death had been the earthquake that swallows cities”. His death continues to cause monumental convulsions as they try to figure out what happened to him, which sees their group dynamic disintegrate into a tangle of distrust. Throw in the secrets of a cult time-travel novel, a showdown with Jim’s parents, and a whole lot of ricocheting revelations, and you have a compelling cauldron of end-days detective fiction.
This story begins in a spiritual retreat. 17 year old Nora is there to recover from an accident and promises readers she will describe the chain of events that brought her there. It will, she says, be a true story, before immediately admitting that she hasn’t always told the truth. This is putting it mildly: Nora’s whole life is a series of lies and deceptions. She has a library of stories to explain her father’s death for example, and in an early incident in the story orchestrates the sacking of a young art teacher. A skilful and convincing liar, Nora has always got what pretty much what she wants. When she meets the Ingram family, a theatrical dynasty, the part in a new film seems within her reach. But in Bel Ingram, wild, reckless and ruthless, has Nora finally met her match? Nora is a fascinating character who will have readers completely in thrall, while her ‘true story’ is full of shocks and surprises. Intelligent, gripping, highly original.
A sublimely fresh and moving exploration of how it feels to be teetering on that giddy precipice between childhood and adulthood. Marcie is on the verge of everything changing. About to leave school and head to university, she feels lost, left in limbo. She’s struggling with family, she has yet to discover her own dreams and she simply doesn’t know what she wants. Cue the re-entry of her childhood imaginary best friend, Thor, a boy with bear arms whom Marcie cast from her life some years ago. Through their alternating narratives, we learn that both Marcie and Thor are heading towards a time of epic transformation, and together they navigate these terrifying tides of change. Spiced with pithy life lessons - ”A rollercoaster’s only fun because you know you’re getting off at some point” - this really is an unusually ingenious novel. The wildly off-the-wall set-up casts a soulful spell that becomes more potent when readers take time to take-in every single word. A rare gem.
In a Nutshell: Magic | Murder | Mystical plague | This satisfying sequel to Spellslinger sizzles with sorcery, secrets and a slathering of swindle and comes highly-recommended for fans of funny fantasy. Though darker than its predecessor, this is still driven by cinematic scope, and by Kellen’s quirks and self-depreciating tone. “I made a terrible outlaw. I couldn’t hunt worth a damn, got lost just about everywhere I went, and it seemed like every person I met found some perfectly sensible reason to try to rob me or kill me.’ Kellen has made the (perhaps not unexpected) discovery that he’s a hopeless fugitive - this is classic crisis of confidence stuff. He’s an on-the-run outlaw, with allies who aren’t exactly delivering on the helping-him-through front. The plot twists and thickens when a mysterious blindfolded girl embroils him in a web of murder and magic, not to mention the ‘shadowblack’ plague. What a whirlwind of Wild West-ism and witty wonder this is. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Fractured families | First love | Fresh starts | 16-year-old Holly feels like an outsider, except when she’s swimming at her local pool: “Under the surface, deep in the blue-lit water, nobody can see me. There’s nobody to judge the clothes I wear, or the way my hair frizzles”. It’s at the pool she meets Ed, who’s “not like the boys at school who are either geeky or cocky and smart-arsed and think they’re all that. He’s different”. While romantic feelings, evoked in all their dizzying wonder, swell poolside, at home the seas are stormier. Struggling with depression, Holly’s mum has “become so inward-looking that she hasn’t a clue what I do with my time”. But as Holly’s home-life begins to brighten, Ed reveals that he’s grappling with a serious domestic situation of his own. Warm-hearted, highly readable and romantic, with the bleaker elements of both teenagers’ lives handled with a sensitive lightness of touch, readers will undoubtedly root for Holly and Ed to find their happy ever after. ~ Joanne Owen
Heart wrenching, honest, funny and bold, this exceptional novel about the life, loves and agonies of a young carer, and the love between a mum and her sons, is a storytelling triumph. Seventeen-year-old Bobby Seed is a devoted son and big brother and an all-round firework of wit and charm, wise and strong beyond his years. He’s also a young carer to his mum who’s suffering from debilitating MS. Bobby has to “brush his mother’s locks every day, sort out her medicine, sponge her clean three times a week, ooze positivity” even when all he wants to do is “punch the shit out of a walk or wail in the shower”. In his situation “the worry of death never leaves you”, but that doesn’t stop the brilliant banter between Bobby and his mum. Theirs is a beautiful, tender relationship. Bobby does what he does for her “because she’s my Mum. That pure and simple”. Bobby’s spirits are kept up by best friend Bel and attending Poztive support group for young carers. It’s there he falls for Vespa-riding Lou, who helps him fulfill his mum’s unexpected birthday request as her deterioration quickens. But then comes the ultimate request. Can he do what Mum needs to alleviate her excruciating pain and loss of function? Always warm and witty, and never sentimental, this raw portrait of real-life ravages is suffused in the magic of the human heart. Bobby is an unforgettable, inspirational character – we could all do with taking a leaf from Bobby’s book of strength and wit - and author Brian Conaghan is a writer of the highest rank.
June 2018 Book of the Month | Hilarious and heartfelt Judy Blume-brilliant tale of a girl who’s struggling to come to terms with her parents’ divorce. Oh, and George Clooney makes a cameo appearance too. From the off, this novel fizzes with energy and funniness (the cat poo/stepsister incident is truly inspired), but beneath the laughs, the hilarious detective episodes and slapstick moments, Violet is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her director dad has moved to LA and has new twin daughters with a younger actress. To make matters worse, after serial-dating a succession of loser boyfriends, Mom has now hooked up with the dorkiest guy imaginable. Even worse still, he’s called Dudley Wiener. Something must be done! And so with typical verve, Violet writes to her mom’s celebrity love, George Clooney, in the hope that they’ll hook up. Then, a fortunate turn of events (plus some conniving) present Violet with an opportunity to actually meet him… What could possibly go wrong? Fast-paced and featuring a fabulous cast of side characters (especially best friend Phoebe and love interest Jean-Paul), this is a riotously funny read with an inspiring lightly-told message - “You have to be open to new experiences. You have to take the good with the bad.”
June 2018 Book of the Month | Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought provoking novel. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
May 2018 Book of the Month | When Jay’s father died, her life imploded in every way imaginable. Not only did she lose her vibrant, supportive dad, but she and her mum also lost their comfortable life. Her mum’s now struggling to pay the rent and although Jay helps out by working, it’s not enough to make ends meet so they’re forced to move in with relatives. Jay’s formidable Aunty Vimala demands strict adherence to traditional Indian values - girls must work hard around the home, and definitely must not have male friends. Boys, on the other hand, such as Aunty Vimala’s sons, are afforded freedoms and can do no wrong. Jay and her mother cook and clean to pay their way alongside trying to keep up with their respective ways out - in Jay’s case, this means doing well at school in order to go to university, while her mum is training to be a teacher. Already trapped and isolated, Jay’s situation plummets further when she’s brutally assaulted by a relative. Her experience and response to this terrible event are powerfully conveyed, as is her traumatic journey to recovery. She’s left feeling broken, and this in turn threatens to break her relationship with her mum. This is an unflinching, multi-layered exposition of male privilege, male abuses of women, and the clash of cultures. With hard-hitting clarity it also shows how girls are silenced, made to feel ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of wrongs done to them. Ultimately this is poignant personal story of a girl’s fight to rebuild and re-connect with herself and those who love her after a truly harrowing experience.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | May 2018 Debut of the Month | Picture this. You’re an honors student with a top university in your sights. You work hard, and you follow your mother’s advice to always put your best foot forward. So how come, when you help a friend in need, you’re man-handled by the police and arrested? How come the cops tell you that they “know your kind...Just couldn’t resist the pretty white girl who’s locked her keys in her car, could ya?” As Yale-bound African American Justyce knows only too well, “things aren’t as equal as folks say they are”. At every turn he’s caught between worlds: a white classmate attributes his success to positive discrimination, while he’s accused of being a race traitor by some of his black peers. He airs this elemental conundrum with SJ, his debate partner: “white people hold most positions of authority in this country. How do I deal with the fact that I DO need them to get ahead without feeling like I’m turning my back on my own people?” And what’s he supposed to do when he falls for SJ and his mama’s dead against him dating a white girl? As the compelling, gut-wrenching story unfolds, Justyce writes a journal to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. to work through his thoughts, vent his frustrations and to ask what Dr King would do in his situation. Then a tragedy strikes that threatens to disarm Justyce’s pledge to do as Martin would do. Important, timely and unforgettable, this powerful exposé of racism, injustice and the injuriousness of profiling articulates the persistent everyday battles faced by thousands of kids in Justyce’s shoes with scorching lucidity. Quite simply, everyone must read this poignant punch-packer of a debut.
Extreme pressure, perils and outright horrors fester when five friends enter a contest on a private island and find themselves in a gruesome fight for survival. How hard can it be for a bunch of bright young things to solve a series of riddles and locate geocaches on an island? The prize seems to be theirs for the taking. But on arrival, abuzz with ideas about what they’ll spend the prize money on, the friends realise that there’s more to the competition than they’ve been led to believe. In fact, it’s not long before they’re trapped in a horrifying ‘hunt or be hunted’ situation as the story twists and turns in disturbing directions. The author’s characterisation is exceptional (of particular note is the background story of brothers Ben and Will, whose pre-island home life was racked with horrors of its own), and the plot is genuine edge-of-your-seat stuff, suffused in an atmosphere of fear and distrust. This is a strong concept, excellently executed, and comes recommended for fans of survival-type reality TV shows – even the most reluctant of readers will find it hard to resist its page-turning pull. But be warned if you’re faint of heart - this gripping, gory psychological story pulls no punches when it comes to gore.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | April 2018 Book of the Month | | An utterly absorbing novel based on the real-life phenomenon of a group of Zimbabwean schoolchildren claiming to have experienced an extra-terrestrial encounter. With over fifty children asserting that they saw the same spaceship, and the same evil-eyed aliens, American psychiatrists have come to investigate. It could be a form of mass hysteria, but why are all the accounts and depictions so completely identical? How could so many kids tell the exact same lie for so long, and why would they lie? Alongside being gripped by the uniquely mysterious event at the heart of the novel, I was bowled over by the author’s mastery of multiple narratives. The intertwined lives of six young people affected by the encounter are explored in all their brutal complexities, and the novel’s real-life origins will surely draw in more reluctant readers. Magnetic, haunting, and richly rewarding.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a Nutshell: how to hope for the best even when you’ve been through the worst | Susin Nielsen puts her protagonists through the most terrible situations, but always manages to keep the tone of her novels light, positive and ultimately uplifting. Teenager Petula’s little sister died in tragic circumstances and the effect on the family has been shattering: her parents are both coping in their own way, but growing further apart, while Petula sees danger and threats in everything. Because of her terrible anxiety she’s been signed up to a youth art therapy group which is where she meets Jacob. Jacob has his own tragedy to deal with, but his arrival changes the dynamics of the group and helps all the different members to move on in one way or another. He and Petula become a couple, but there’s a growing realisation for her and readers that he’s not been completely honest. Readers will be gripped by Petula’s story and the way she tells it; Nielsen gives her a totally authentic teen voice, loaded with cynicism, sarcasm, humour and flashes of hope. Recommended for readers who enjoy Nielsen’s poignant, sensitive novels is I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloane. ~ Andrea Reece *** Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take the quiz & find out! OptimistsQuiz.com
In a Nutshell: Falling in love, taking a stand, and standing tall Exploring an unforgettable relationship between two young women and obstructive social inequalities, this is a thoroughly thought-provoking, engaging read. I was mightily impressed by the author’s debut Countless, and this confirms her prowess at covering big social and emotional themes with heartfelt depth. Joni’s family is struggling to make ends meet. With her mum working all hours and her dad incapacitated by a bad back, she brings in extra cash with a weekend job at the local library. It’s at the library that Joni meets Annabel, daughter of a big shot businessman and benefactor. Joni has good reason to dislike posh Annabel, but her first reaction soon shifts to overwhelming attraction, a feeling that turns out to be mutual. The scenes in which Joni and Annabel visit each other’s homes are incredibly affecting, with the passion of their first intimate encounters and increasing closeness contrasted with the class chasm that separates them. Their life chances are as different as their life styles. While Annabel has a huge house and an actual lake, Joni’s family is on the brink of being evicted as a result of a corporate buy-out of their estate. As is clear from Annabel’s situation, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does keep a roof over your head, and so with time running out Joni steps up her involvement in her brother’s campaign to save their estate. Throughout Joni’s spirit and sense of hope are inspirational. Despite the unfairness she and her family must fight in order to survive, she holds onto to the belief that “things can change, if you keep trying”. Highly recommended for readers who like their YA to mix real-life issues with romance, and I loved the twist that makes the political all too personal. ~ Joanne Owen
May 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Intense exposé of extreme misogyny and male privilege An unflinching novel about brutally toxic masculinity, male collusion and how justice systems and society at large are still appallingly rigged against women. Life is tough for Ellie and her dad in their decrepit ghost town. Ellie’s mom ran out on them when she was still a baby, she’s cripplingly lonely and her dad never fulfilled his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Convinced – and told by her peers - that she’s ugly, Ellie’s dream is “to be pretty. That’s part of what makes a girl,” she remarks. “Girls who are pretty are likeable. Pretty is power.” So when privileged Caleb tells her she’s pretty, she craves him, even though she also “hated how he made me feel uncomfortable”. His attention legitimises and comforts her, even when he dumps her, even when he’s humiliates her. And then it’s too late. He and his family are monstrous, and Ellie can’t escape. The brotherhood of abuse portrayed here will sicken and shock, while your heart will ache for Ellie, for her dad, and for the love and friendships she deserved to enjoy. Relentlessly raw and unusually framed, this is perhaps best recommended for fans of crime fiction with conscience. Bold in its bleakness, this steers well clear of any kind of happy-ever-after Hollywood ending. In real life baddies don’t always get what they had coming. In real life not everyone has a best friend to turn to. On a positive note, this might just enrage to the point of inspiring readers to take a stand on issues of systemic misogyny, and it makes a strong case for the need to take time to truly get to know people, to find friends you can open up to. ~ Joanne Owen
August 2018 Book of the Month | Kate Pankhurst inspires thousands of young readers with her books about the fantastically great women who made history. This book reunites us with those women, including astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, dancer Josephine Baker, and code breaker Noor Inayat Khan – and encourages readers to think more about them while they complete some fun and creative write in activities. There are writing and drawing tasks, a set of postcards to send to the great people in your life, and the book concludes by asking how you will make history, inviting readers to make a list of their own hopes and dreams for the future. Bright stickers featuring Pankhurst’s lively drawings of her subjects make it even more appealing.
The title of this book will bring shudders to anyone who has ever undertaken a long journey with children, the book itself could be a godsend! 96 busy, colourful pages are packed with puzzles, games and activities of all sorts. The opening section will put readers properly in the holiday spirit with games and challenges to get them thinking about packing and holiday destinations. After that come pages of activities to pass the time while en route, while it’s raining, or even while your parents enjoy a lie in. The activities are very varied and will give the brain a good work-out too over those long lazy summer days. Well worth adding to the suitcase.
Wally-watchers will find lots to entertain them in this pocket-sized puzzle-packed volume. As well as search and find challenges, there are quizzes, mazes, memory games and even the odd page of jokes all of them stamped with the unmistakeable images of Wally, his friends and his world. As an extra treat, a fold-out board game is tucked neatly into the back cover. Just the thing to give the brain a work-out over the summer or to while away a long journey. And for more Where's Wally activity fun check out Where's Wally? Across Lands Activity Book!
May 2018 Book of the Month Not only is it lovely to look at, but Hoakes Island gives the brain a really good work-out too. Readers are challenged to find out what happened to Henry Hoakes, owner of Hoakes Island amusement park, who vanished in mysterious circumstances. This means studying the notebook and map he left behind. On each page of the book there are ingenious puzzles to solve, with more clues to be decoded on the map too – a special red lens neatly included with the book reveals hidden images in the pictures. Poor old Henry went missing in 1953 and there’s a charming retro feel to the illustrations, and some jolly ads on the map too. Stylish, puzzle fun. There's a trailer for Hoakes Island here...follow the clues and solves the puzzles!
A trip to the country, local park or even into the back garden will be lots of fun with this special pack, which has everything children need to discover and find out more about the nature surrounding them. It contains a 32 page colour book full of suggestions for things you can do outside, from animal tracking to making a mini pond. There are spotter sheets so that you can note down what you see on your outdoor adventures and a tally sheet to keep a record, and there’s even a poster for your bedroom wall. Just the thing to encourage youngsters to put down the console or remote control and head outside.
Preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup can begin right now with this handsome and thoroughly comprehensive guide to the tournament. Over 170 colour pages it details the teams and the players, not just today’s but the best from the tournament’s history, alongside information on all the forthcoming games, plus memorable moments from World Cup history. No matter how big a football fan you are, there’ll be stories to surprise and inspire you (like the qualifier that stopped a civil war), and information you’ll want to share with fellow fans or family members. A winner!
This robust, beautifully illustrated board book is a great way to teach young children about nature, and will also boost their vocabulary. Themed under headings such as gardens and parks; feathers, eggs and nests; and rocks and gems, the pages feature an array of birds, animals, insects and plants, all clearly illustrated and labelled. Many will be familiar to UK children, the little wren for example, branch of ivy, or dandelion clock, while others are more exotic – the Baobab tree, or Arctic fox. Each page, each object is lovely to look at and provides so much to spot and discuss. ~ Andrea Reece
The 'Treehouse' series of books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton reliably provides kids with some of the most inventive, entertaining and deliciously daft reading around, and this new activity book takes the fun on to a different level. Across 150 joke-filled colourful pages are a series of Treehouse related games, puzzles and activities. The best are those which ask readers to imitate Andy and Terry and, for example, to make up their own mixed-up animals, create a fun food level for the Treehouse or draw an explosion (explosions are one of the boys’ specialities). 100% entertaining and a good incentive to all readers to create their own chaotic fun in a book. ~ Andrea Reece
When they've been reading all year at school, it's not surprising kids want to run around frantically outside and have some fun when summer finally arrives. But the long holidays are also an ideal time to build on good reading habits, and foster a real life-long love of books away from the classroom...
Our summer reading selection this year has been "such fun to put together," says one of our Lovereading4kids 'expert voices' Julia Eccleshare. We're sure children of all ages will have a great deal of fun reading every one of them. Some are from well-known and well-loved children's authors, others are from exciting new authors. They are all fantastic reads.
For those excited about The World Cup 2018 we have a special section full of football focused books, both fiction and factual for readers of all ages.
If your kids aren't so keen on fiction check out our Fascinating Facts section, packed full of interesting reads. 360 Degrees presents non-fiction in wonderfully imaginative ways and our 30 Seconds category has lively factual books which will be perfect for keeping the kids interested on long journeys.
A classic makes a great summer read - we have spruced up our Children's Classics section and our Essential Reads too. And throughout the year there are special events to celebrate the centenary of Women's Suffrage so have a look at our selection for books both fiction and non-fiction.
If you're looking for something for babies and toddlers, take a look at the wonderful Picture Book Party from Walker or our First Concepts special category. Out and About is filled with clever ideas for activities over the holiday..and if you want a prize winner try our UKLA Book Awards 2018 section.
There’s something to appeal to all!
There are eBook formats available for most of the books in our Summer Reading selection, but each month further eBooks can be found here.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.