What a year 2017 was for children's publishing. So many amazing books were published it’s quite possible even the most dedicated of parents missed a few. Below are favourites, split into age ranges so you can find the books you are most interested in.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2017 Inspired by the birth of his son, award-winning Oliver Jeffers has created a deeply touching introduction to the world as a physical space and also as a place that needs to be treated with great care and respect. Subtitled ‘Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ Jeffers uses richly coloured double page spreads and only a few words of commentary to describe the obvious features of land, sea, night and day but also how time can move both slow and fast and should never be wasted! The perfect gift for all parents to share with their new babies – and each other. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for November 2017 Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers Katinka's Tail by Judith Kerr Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney The Lion and the Unicorn and Other Hairy Tales by Jane Ray The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This must be one of the brightest and best picture books of the year. With minimalist illustrations – simple shapes against blocks of Day-Glo colour – and short lines of text, Morag Hood tells a story that will dazzle and entertain all readers. Cherries, Bat tells us, ‘are my favourite things’, following this up with a fiercely delivered threat: ‘Do not take my cherries.’ In later pages though we see the cherries being stolen. Bat is inconsolable until one of the thieves leaves a pear in their place. Bat’s emotions – joy, anger, confusion, despair, surprise and joy again – are rendered brilliantly in the tilt of an eyebrow and the angle of the head while the intensity of those emotions will be hilarious yet recognisable to child and parent alike. Superb! ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | There should be more books like this: in bright, appealing illustrations it tells children how people of different faiths cover their heads to show their love for God. Working on the principle that learning about each other makes it easy for us to be more understanding and therefore tolerant, each page features a man, woman or child with a short, friendly line of text to explain who they are and to name their headpiece (phonetic pronunciation is provided too). Amongst others, we’re introduced to a Sikh man in a Turban, a woman in a Tichel and a young boy in a Kippah. Their smiling faces immediately engage our attention making this a great book to encourage dialogue and discussion. ~ Andrea Reece For free colouring sheets, teaching tools and a look inside the book, please visit www.hatsoffaith.com
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month Beautiful illustrations full of interest and wonder accompany Alison Jay’s delightful story about a boy whose grandad helps him to embrace happy memories of the past but also look forward to new adventures. Boy enjoyed yesterday so much that he searches for a way to travel back in time until Grandad shares his own wonderful memories and shows him there are many more exciting times still to come. With interesting words to wrap your tongue around and so much to talk about on each page this is a super book to share with young children. ~ Shelley Fallows
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Playtime with Ted is one of a new series of interactive board books from the super-talented Sophy Henn and like her bestselling picture books it’s fresh and funny, and a wonderful celebration of the joys of being a child. Ted is having great fun: to the unseen grown up he’s sitting in a cardboard box, but flip over the flap and we see what Ted sees as his box transforms into a series of vehicles, from racing car to submarine to rocket ship. It seems so simple but there’s a brilliance in the idea and the delivery, and this will delight children and adults alike. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Book of the Month Open the book and turn its divided pages carefully, top and bottom half together, and you’ll discover bright pages of favourite dogs, each with its own jolly descriptive poem. But, for more fun, flip top and bottom halves of the page separately to create your own unique gallery of brand new dog breeds. How about a Boodle – half Beagle, half Poodle; or a Dachshiel – half Dachshund, half Spaniel? There are more than 100 possible combinations, so hours of entertainment are guaranteed. Sturdy pages and spiral binding make this suitable for even the littlest hands and everyone will have fun sounding out the mixed-up names of their new creations. ~ Andrea Reece See more Flip Flap books here.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2017 Fans of the adventures of Judith Kerr’s Mog will adore this magical story about the best-selling author’s latest very special cat Katinka. Snowy white except for her stripy tail, Katinka is a homey cat providing companionship and entertainment for her elderly owner. But Katinka has a secret! Katinka’s sparkling magic lights up life for all her friends – and for her owner! Wonderful illustrations and the sprinkling of golden magic make this a book to treasure. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for November 2017 Christmas Dinner of Souls by Ross Montgomery Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers Katinka's Tail by Judith Kerr Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht The Stone Bird by Jenny McCartney The Lion and the Unicorn and Other Hairy Tales by Jane Ray The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | No child’s bookshelf is complete without one, and preferably more than one of Rob Biddulph’s joyful, dazzling picture books. Sunk! is a new adventure for Penguin Blue, star of the award-winning Blown Away. He’s been given a pirate costume and sets out on a nautical adventure with his penguin friends and Clive the polar bear. They sail the seven seas – beautifully illustrated on a map in which the seas are helpfully and stylishly numbered – before running into trouble. All ends wonderfully well of course and they sail home with a new friend and something very special to play on. This has all the hallmarks of Biddulph’s brilliance: each cleverly designed page is full of things to look at; the story is told in lively, witty rhyme; and the whole story exudes fun and warmth. And readers all get to shout ‘Thar she blows’ too – what more could you ask? ~ Andrea Reece Award-winning Rob Biddulph’s swashbuckling adventure is perfect for all those who’d love to sail the high seas with – Pirates! Penguin Blue and his friends Cutlass Jess, First Mate Flo and Wilbur Seal the cabin boy, set out to hit the treasure trail. There’s a map, a sunken wreck and old sea dog names Captain Plank all of whom add to the glorious escapade. Rob Biddolph’s stunning illustrations create a magical watery world. ~ Julia Eccleshare
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award June 2017 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2017 In glorious illustrations about hats of all kinds Emily Gravett makes a deliciously simple joke about the folly of following fashion and the desirability of just being yourself. Harbet has a lovely warm hat which was knitted for him by his Nana. He feels good wearing it but when the others see it they all laugh at it for being Old Hat! Harbet tries to keep up with the changing fashions but he soon realises that he must be himself and adopt a ‘no hat’ policy! Suddenly, Harbet is the trend setter as no one can keep up with him! Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2017 Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds by Horatio Clare Adventures of John Blake, The: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman Axel Scheffler's Flip Flap Ocean by Axel Scheffler Maisy Goes to the Bookshop by Lucy Cousins Tender Earth by Sita Brahmachari Old Hat by Emily Gravett The Cow Who Fell to Earth by Nadia Shireen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2017 Brilliant and hilarious, award-winning Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett’s Triangle is the gem of a book. Spare and sophisticated at one and the same time it tells how Triangle plays a sneaky trick on his friend Square. And how Square plays an equally sneaky trick back. Despite the tricks these two unlikely characters, both of whom are invested with wonderful characters despite the simplicity of their representations, remain the very best of friends. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for March 2017 Jellicle Cats by T.S. Eliot and Arthur Robins William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks by William Bee The Story of the Dancing Frog by Quentin Blake George's Marvellous Experiments inspired by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley Many Moons by Remi Courgeon Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer by Alexanda McCall Smith Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 MEGA Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2017 | Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury bring the very best of their award-winning The Gruffalo and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt respectively to this glorious new picture book which will remind readers of both. When Rabbit hears a loud voice coming from right inside his burrow he is terrified. What terrible kind of creature could the Giant Jumperee who is hiding in there possibly be? Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant all come to help but are they brave enough or clever enough to discover just who the Giant Jumperee is? ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for April 2017 The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury Grandapa Green by Lane Smith I'm Going to Eat This Ant by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros Lots: The Diversity of Life on Earth by Nicola Davies Mrs Mole, I'm Home! by Jarvis Silver by Walter de la Mare
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | There’s a surprise twist at the end of this tale of little Nanette, entrusted by her mother to get the baguette from the baker, and no-one will see it coming. Then again everything in this book is unexpected, clever and very, very funny. The story – Nanette goes to buy bread, but can’t resist eating it on the way home – is a hoot, but it’s Willem’s choice of language that makes it so comic and memorable: there are 31 different rhymes for baguette, including – after Nanette has given in to temptation and consumed the baguette – the sublime ‘Nanette is beset with regret’! Pictures match the text for wit and originality – Willem’s mix of cartoon and collage, the way he plays with the design and layout, and the bog-eyed appeal of Nanette all work to make this a stand out picture book. Daft, true and utterly irresistible. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month 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.
A collectible Alphabet pop-up, for design connoisseurs of all ages. This beautifully presented pop-up book is a refreshing take on learning the alphabet. Spot the connections between the letters sharing a pop - a Letter in a Mailbox, a Pillow on a Quilt, twisty Roots under a Swing on a Tree. Educational and a visual treat there will be plenty to talk about as children learn their abc's. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month Beautifully illustrated throughout, this stunning book by Tatyana Feeney is an absolute delight to read. Mr Wolf just loves his socks. He feels particularly good when wearing them and so is rather concerned when he suddenly notices a small hole appear in one. He tries to ignore it but gradually it gets bigger and bigger. He attempts to fix the hole using plasters, glue and sticky tape but nothing seems to work and so he decides to search for the answer in a book. He soon discovers how he can make his very own socks, socks of different lengths and colours. Whilst his nose is buried in a book he stumbles across the end of a length of wool which is exactly what he needs to make his socks! He then embarks on a trip around Ireland following the string of wool in pursuit of its source. As his adventure continues he begins to imagine all the things he can knit, until finally Mr Wolf discovers where the wool has come from. Before long he has knitted himself a brand new pair of socks and delights in the fact that he'll never be caught out by hole again! I absolutely loved the dapper, friendly Mr Wolf and his colourful, cosy socks. Perfect to share with young book (and sock!) lovers. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | If you love vehicles, then this is the book for you! William Bee shows off a multitude of amazing vehicles, starting with the steam engine, then trains, a hovercraft, the vertical-take-off-jump-jet, submarines and finally – of course – the space rocket. Pages are busy with super-bright graphics yet clearly laid out, one vehicle per spread, in a lovely large format. There’s lots to see on each page – the machines of course, but also there are logos, signs, directions to read and fun extras – friendly traffic cones, William’s dog, even a little rabbit. Useful lines of text accompany each illustration. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep is one of the great Eleanor Farjeon’s loveliest stories, and Charlotte Voake’s beautiful ink and watercolour illustrations capture all its magic. Elsie Piddock is a born skipper, starting at just 3 years old with her father’s braces. Given a skipping rope of her own, she’s soon so good that she comes to the attention to the fairies. On top of Mount Caburn their skipping master Andy-Spandy teaches her their special skips, and from then on Elsie amazes all her see her. When she’s an old, old lady, a greedy lord tries to build a factory on the mountain, but Elsie skips to save it. As lovely to read aloud as it is to look at, and with a timeless message about the strength of communities, this is an absolute delight. ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 | In a Nutshell: Death row injustice | Undying brotherly love A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time. New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing. ~ Joanne Owen The Costa Judges say: ‘An exceptional, compelling book for our time – its analysis is devastating but its message is hope.’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Winner for the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize | Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 and awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour | A powerful picturebook which teacher judges described as “taking children to new experiences outside their own”. What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but also great hope. Francesca Sanna has won the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. She won for her book The Journey (Flying Eye Books), which tells the story of a mother and her two children fleeing war at home to find a new life in another country. Sanna was inspired to create the book after meeting two young girls in a refugee centre in Italy. She interviewed many more refugees after that, incorporating their stories into her book. ‘The shortlist featured five skilful and talented illustrators but The Journey is the most inventive and original of all the entries’, said judge Axel Scheffler, ‘The fear the family experiences is strongly expressed in the graphic language of the book which is beautifully designed. The stylish drawings are varied and yet consistent.’ Chair of the judges, Julia Eccleshare said: ‘Francesca’s subject in The Journey is war and its devastating effect on families caught up in it. Through words and pictures working perfectly together she tells her story in a way that will move all readers whatever their age. Over his long career, Klaus Flugge has always been ready to publish ground-breaking books, and many of those, though deemed challenging on publication - Not Now Bernard by David McKee for example - are today recognised as classics. It is fitting that the prize in his name is this year going to Francesca for The Journey and we are all excited to see what she does next.’ Francesca Sanna said: ‘I was incredibly honoured to see The Journey shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize, together with the other four stunning books. To learn that my book had been chosen as the winner was really overwhelming. I am so grateful to the jury for this prize, which will help me continue doing the work I love, focusing on topics I deeply care about.’Mark Hendle, Managing Director of Andersen Press said: ‘Though only in its second year, the Klaus Flugge Prize already feels an established and important part of the children’s book world and we are delighted at the interest and support it has received. We were pleased too that this year’s shortlist was so international, with illustrators from three different continents represented. Klaus has always sought out talent from across the world, and that is part of what makes him such a successful and influential publisher.’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | This is an absolutely stunning book. Not only is it an absolute treat visually but it's also a feast for the imagination for lovers of fairy tales and the ever elusive happy ever after. Hilary has brought her own unique touch to well known and loved fairy-tales. Fairy-tales that we know so well and yet with her refreshing, imaginative touch have been made new for us. The ten retellings including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood , The Princess and the Pea, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Swan Brothers. Hansel and Gretel, amongst others. This is a selection that lovers of fairy tales, old and young, will love to read again and again. Combined with beautiful illustrations by Sarah Gibb, this will be a collection to treasure. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a nutshell: dreams-come-true adventure plus comedy advice from the master Harry Hill’s new children’s book is funny (no surprise), features great characters, particularly would-be comic Matt and his terrifyingly ambitious manager Kitty (age 11), but also offers a mini-masterclass in stand-up comedy. Matt’s dream is to make it on the comedy circuit and he’s prepared to work his way up from the school talent show, via the local WI, and TV talent show. Along the way, he is helped and/or hindered by best mate Rob, step-dad Ian and the style-vacuum that is his headmaster Mr Pavey. It’s great fun and some of the best scenes are interspersed with real advice on everything from working on your timing to dealing with hecklers. By the end readers will hope that Matt gets to follow his heroes onto the Apollo stage, but will also understand just why that’s such a uniquely exhilarating thing to do. ~ Andrea Reece Readers looking for something similar should look out for Christine Hamill’s Lollies shortlisted The Best Medicine, in which Harry Hill has a starring role.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | May 2017 Book of the Month | This deeply moving story perfectly conveys the devastating impact of the First World War both on those who took part and those they left behind. Though the story is fiction, many of those who feature were real people, gardeners at what became known after their deaths as the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The story is narrated by Alfie, who is too young to sign up, and conveyed through his letters to and from the young men who worked alongside him in the gardens and who joined the forces. The letters describe simply but vividly the realities of life at home and at the front, optimism and enthusiasm giving way to shock and grief. We particularly feel for Will who was so kind and gentle, and whose absence is mourned by animal as well as human friends. Beautifully told and illustrated, this is a book for children and adults to treasure. Line of Fire by Barroux gives another first-hand account of the war in words and pictures. ~ Andrea Reece In 2013 the Imperial War Museum recognised Heligan's Thunderbox Room as a 'Living Memorial' to 'The Gardeners of Heligan House'. A Song for Will is published in partnership with The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | With this action packed third and final instalment to the series, Abi Elphinstone has secured her place in the imagination of young readers. Dark magic threatens to shroud Moll and everything she holds dear in an eternal night, reducing the world around her to a place without hope. Never has she been further from home or felt more alone, her constant companion self-doubt as she tries to fight back against the last two Shadowmasks. Yet the darkness is hard to fight and it will take every ounce of courage she has to overcome them. Moll must face her deepest fears whilst she, Siddy and Gryff embark on an adventure that will see them face goblins, witches and giants in the northern wilderness. Can they fight the curse of the Night Spinner and find the Amulet of Truth to bring light back to the land, when so many have already fallen under its spell? Abi Elphinstone is most certainly a writer to watch. You can feel her own sense of adventure and wonder for the world right within the heart of her stories and this is an amazing gift to share with the children who read them. Totally absorbing with just the right level of scary, the fears and feelings within are something that all children will relate to. Through Moll, Gryff and their friends we learn the importance of friendship and learning from your mistakes, whilst being true to who you are and finding courage even in the very darkest of moments. A new adventure is promised from Abi in 2018 but in the meantime this trilogy is certainly one that will be returned to again and again. ~ Shelley Fallows
Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: icicle-beautiful story of a girl touched by magic | In a story of magic and ancient beings, Amy Wilson allows us all to dream of what it would be like to have special, elemental powers. Owl has always wanted to know who her father is, but her mother has answered her questions only with folk stories. As she turns 12, the urge to find him is even deeper, as bizarre events disturb Owl’s ordinary teenage life. The truth is strange if wonderful: her father is none other than Jack Frost and Owl, half fay, shares some of his powers and trickster ways. As her father pays the fairy price for his misdemeanours, Owl is in danger too. Mystery, fantasy and gentle romance, this story will cast its magic over young readers and is the perfect winter read. Readers who enjoy stories of magic touching the human world will enjoy Abi Elphinstone’s Dream Snatcher books, Philip Womack’s Darkening Path trilogy, and Deep Water by Lu Hersey. ~ Andrea Reece
A moving historical story inspired by the Foundling Museum, written by acclaimed children's author Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Michael Foreman. From award-winning master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, author of the acclaimed War Horse, comes a moving historical story inspired by the Foundling Museum. A lonely boy struggles to cope with school bullies and caring for his mother, until a mysterious encounter reveals life in the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth century and unravels a touching tale about the power of music. Beautifully illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal-winning illustrator Michael Foreman.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 A book to make you think and feel, this is an important, beautiful, spellbinding treasure. Words from nature are disappearing, being removed, left to one side to be forgotten. Some words are in real danger of being lost forever, this book reveals those words, sings them, shows them, reminds us how to love them. Spell-weavers Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris have created a bewitching ode to nature, reminding us of the danger of absence, highlighting beauty, whispering to our soul. It feels as though the words, the poems, and vividly beautiful pictures are as one, the essence of the word, of the being, escapes the page to wrap itself around you. ‘The Lost Words’ is suitable for all ages, and should find a special place in all homes, all libraries, all schools, all hearts. Do read the spell-poems out loud, listen, look, feel, touch, allow your awareness to open and receive these gifts. I found myself entranced, I fell completely under the spell of ‘The Lost Words’, I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
Winner of the 2018 Blue Peter Awards - Best Story | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2017 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 Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for October 2017 A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig The Greatest Magician in the World by Matt Edmondson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a nutshell: dicing with the dead has never been so thrilling Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series about a company of teenage psychics attempting to keep the streets of a nearly-but-not contemporary London clear of malevolent spirits is thrilling stuff. Each episode offers a first-class helping of brilliantly-written, edge-of the-seat ghostly adventure packed with intrigue, humour and even a touch of romance. The Empty Grave brings the series to its conclusion and does so in style, with the fiercest test yet for our young heroes, and some uncomfortably close brushes with death. Readers who haven’t discovered this series yet are to be envied, they have such a treat in store! ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Debut of the Month In a Nutshell: An enchantingly heartrending conjuration that weaves folklore magic with the darkness of Nazi-occupied Poland. Karolina is a living doll who’s been transported from the Land of the Dolls on a “kind wind” following a cruel war with the rats. She wakes “in her new world with a glass heart”, in the workshop of a dollmaker in Krakow, Poland. When Karolina speaks to him, the Dollmaker is certain that he’s lost his mind. He made her, after all, “and I can’t make something that comes to life,” he reasons. But Karolina explains that “gardeners do it all the time with flowers”. Through shimmering, lyrical language, and Karolina’s consummate compassion, we are witness to a transformation in the crotchety widower Dollmaker. He begins to smile, to make friends, to feel light and hope. And then, when darkness descends on their city in the form of the Nazis, together they must use their newfound magic to save their friends, no matter what. The author does not shirk from relating the brutal realities of the Jewish experience in Nazi-occupied Poland, yet the overriding message is one of hope and love, and the wondrousness of acts of kindness. This is a sublimely big-souled book, with an exquisite ambiance of timelessness. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | July 2017 Book of the Month Lovereading4kids are big fans of Emma’s books. Her stories continue to delight and move me, and Letters from the Lighthouse does not disappoint at all. It’s 1941 and the Second World War rages on longer than anyone anticipated. Reeling from the death of their father and the disappearance of their sister Sukie, Olive and her brother are evacuated to the coast of Devon. After discovering a strangely coded message that she’s certain has something to do with Sukie’s disappearance, Olive embarks on a dangerous adventure as she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Emma Carroll has a wonderful takent for bringing historic events to life for today’s young readers and with Letters from the Lighthouse continues to create an enthralling, thrilling read, whilst introducing situations and characters that are still relevant in our world today. Olive is a wonderful protagonist. Being an evacuee she has an understanding of the prejudice that can come from lack of understanding. The thing that touched me most within this wonderful novel was the opportunity to hear the stories behind all those effected by war along with the refugees and the impact they had on the locals. War and hate has the ability to divide communities but Letters from the Lighthouse shows how much can be achieved when people work together. A beautifully written story about bravery, compassion, understanding, and having the strength to fight for what you believe in. ~ Shelley Fallows
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | June 2017 Debut of the Month In a Nutshell: Spirit of survival abounds on an epic Himalayan journey A captivatingly classic adventure in which two children battle extreme political and environmental hostilities as they journey from Tibet to India. By day Tash’s dad writes for the authority-controlled local newspaper. By night he writes leaflets for the resistance. On this particular night, after a local tailor sets himself alight to protest the regime, soldiers seize Tash’s parents. With a defiant determination that belies her 12 years, Tash wastes no time in putting a plan into action. “I have the luck of the sky dragon,” she encourages herself, thinking of her dad’s words as she and best friend Sam embark on an extraordinary journey to India, where they hope to secure the support of the Dalai Lama. But time is against them, as is the terrain. Winter is on its way, and the perilous paths of the Himalayan Mountains will soon be blocked by snow. And then there’s the snipers who appear through the mists, and the bear tracks that appear in the snow and, all the while, Tash and Sam are struggling to decipher a coded message from her father. “We're so small. Can we really make a difference?” Tash wonders but, at its heart, this novel tells the tale of her tenacity, and ability to do just that. It’s a thrilling fable about hope, and the importance of holding onto what matters, no matter what. With its derring-do charm, and vivid sense of place, this follows in the tradition of classic adventure stories, and comes thoroughly recommended for fans of Eva Ibbotson, Lauren St John and Katherine Rundell. ~ Joanne Owen A message from the author: I spent much of my childhood living in the foothills of the Himalayas with my parents and grandparents. My grandma would take my hand and tell me stories of her adventures: how she travelled to India by boat at ten years old; gardened with the Dalai Lama when he first arrived and encountered many animals. There was the black bear that stole the dog food, the leopard cub my uncle rescued and rehabilitated, and the monkey that would climb into bed with everyone. Soon, one of my favourite things to do was to clamber over the mountains searching for wildlife and imagining that I was on my own adventures in the wilderness. As I got older, I met Tibetans who explained how they had walked for months across the Himalayas, risking their lives to escape from Tibet into India. These stories inspired Running on the Roof of the World. Jess Butterworth
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2017 Gill Lewis’s A Story Like the Wind, a powerful and lyrical story about contemporary refugees, is fuelled by an ancient tale which tells how throughout history music has crossed barriers and bound people together encouraging them to stand up to oppression and injustice. Rami has nothing but his violin as he sets off on a terrifying journey to try to find safety. Starving and thirsty he takes nothing from his fellow travellers as he has nothing to share. Why did you not sell your violin, they ask? With his violin as an accompaniment Rami swiftly demonstrates why; his inspiring story of freedom from long, long ago unites his fellow refugees and stirs them all to believe in their journey and their hope of a better life. ~ Julia Eccleshare A message from Gill Lewis: ‘For me, one of the most poignant images of the refugee crisis is one of a young Syrian playing his violin in front of a barricade of riot police at a border control. It is a powerful image, showing how music can cross barriers of language, intolerance and fear and tell our shared stories of love and loss, and of our hopes and dreams. Music is a universal language. It is the language of the heart. In this story, Rami, a young violinist, tells his fellow travellers an ancient tale about the power of music uniting people to stand up against oppression and speak out against injustice. Rami's story is also one of our time. It belongs to us all. It is a story of freedom. A story like the wind…’ Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2017 The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue King of the Sky by Nicoloa Davies A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis King Coo by Adam Stower The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman The Big Bird Spot by Matt Sewell
One of our Books of the Year 2018 | June 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: more fast, funny, heavily illustrated adventures with everyone’s favourite junior comic Lots has happened since Jamie Grimm’s first appearance in I Funny. Then he was a would-be stand-up comic, now he’s an established star with his own TV sitcom. Some things haven’t changed however, he’s still got an implacable enemy in his cousin, Stevie Kosgrove, especially when Stevie sees how he’s represented in Jamie’s sitcom. Back at middle school, can Jamie avoid Stevie, sort out his uncle’s Frankie’s love life, save the school library, and still keep his audience laughing? No matter how wild and wacky the action, Jamie’s presence and distinctive voice hold it all together and this is another sure-fire page-turner. Laughs and plot twists can be taken for granted, but Patterson makes sure the story delivers on character too, and the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: a tasty treat for would-be sleuths and fans of Wells and Wong | Young readers everywhere are hooked on Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike series starring schoolgirl sleuths Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, and they will relish this special addition to the series which features all sorts of treats, from tips on how to set up a detective society, delivered by Daisy, to tempting lists of favourite classic crime compiled by Stevens herself. There are also some excellent short story mysteries including the creepy Case of the Deepdean Vampire and, starring Daisy and Hazel’s friends in the Junior Pinkertons, The Secret of Weston School. Quizzes on the novels and a collection of recipes for bunbreak favourites complete the book. As with the full-length books it’s all clever, well thought-out and thoroughly entertaining. ~ Andrea Reece ****Are you a budding super-sleuth? Well then, you're in luck, young detective. The Honourable Daisy Wells, President of the Wells & Wong Detective Society, has written a fantastic (if we must say so) guide to detecting, which will help you get ready to solve your first case... Find out more here!
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2017 Twelve-year-old Ebo’s terrifying story of travelling alone from his home in Africa in order to have the chance of a childhood, education and ultimately a safe way of life is brilliantly told this graphic novel. In words and pictures, Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano tell how Ebo, along with so many others in the same plight, makes his way across the treacherous Sahara Desert before he even begins on the desperate journey across the sea. Told with great sympathy and warmth and propelled by Nobel Laureate Elis Wiesel’s powerful quote, “You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal”, Ebo’s story which is shared by millions migrants, should be read by all. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for October 2017 A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig The Greatest Magician in the World by Matt Edmondson
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month More than two decades after Northern Lights the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages comes, La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his 'The Book of Dust' series. #BookofDust will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old. La Belle Sauvage is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on the much-beloved Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, dæmons, and the Magisterium all return to play their part. Since the ‘equel’ (as Pullman likes it to be known) to His Dark Materials was announced, fans around the globe have cheered the return of Lyra Belacqua, heroine of His Dark Materials. In a short film released by his publisher, Pullman revealed the ingredient for success behind His Dark Materials: Lyra’s ordinariness. He says: “When I wrote the first book of His Dark Materials - Northern Lights - I certainly didn't anticipate that so many people would find Lyra as interesting a character as I did.” “The thing about Lyra is that she's not a special child. She's not especially gifted or talented - she's a very ordinary child. When I was a teacher, I taught many girls who were like Lyra. They were brave, inquisitive, curious, disobedient: all those interesting things for storytellers. I think the reason that people have read this long and complicated story is because they're with Lyra. She doesn't know the things that are threatening her and she's in the same position as the reader, because the reader shares her sense of danger and excitement and curiosity about what's going to happen next. I hope the same thing will be true of Malcolm in La Belle Sauvage.” A Piece of Passion from Francesca Dow, Managing Director, Penguin Random House Children’s (UK): “La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One is a story for our time, with themes that resonate with our world today. It is a story for everybody: a much longed-for treat for established fans of His Dark Materials as they meet Lyra Belacqua again and the chance for new readers to step into the magical world of Philip Pullman for the first time. Pullman is a master storyteller, and Lyra has established herself firmly as one of the most-loved characters in literature, a worthy contemporary of the likes of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series), Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). In this book, she is joined by a new hero readers will love: an ordinary boy who steps up to the challenge of a lifetime.” Photo credit: Philip Pullman at a press conference held in Convocation House to launch his new novel La Belle Sauvage. © Ant Upton_Photocall Productions.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2017 Award-winning Kate Saunders takes readers on a wondrous fantasy adventure in the best tradition of children’s stories in which there is another world to ours in which strange and silly things can and do happen. The story is tinged with sadness as the adventures stem from beautifully conveyed feelings of grief that it is often hard to express. Mourning the death of her much-loved sister, Emily finds herself having the most curious dreams in which soft toys came alive and do the most extraordinary things. When Ruth, a neighbour whose son died as a child, dreams the same things, the pair begin an adventure in which the worlds of reality and storytelling and make-believe seem to flow together effortlessly and the absurd becomes the everyday. For both Emily and Ruth, learning to laugh again at the happenings in the imaginary world of Smokeroon provides them with exactly the comfort and imaginary release they so badly need. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for October 2017 A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig The Greatest Magician in the World by Matt Edmondson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the 2018 Blue Peter Awards - Best Story | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | In a nutshell: beautifully told story of courage and hope and an unforgettable setting Kiran Millwood Hargrave follows up her award-winning debut The Girl of Ink and Stars with a story set in the real world, though one still filled with a sense of wonder and the extraordinary. Set in the Philippines at the beginning of the last century it tells the story of a girl forcibly removed from her mother, as many were, because her mother has leprosy, or as those with the disease preferred, is touched. With the help of her friends Ami makes her way back to her mother and it’s a story of love, courage and hope, all of these symbolised by the butterflies that fill the pages and that are so important to the story. It’s passionately told, full of memorable scenes and characters, and the writing is beautiful. ~ Andrea Reece The Costa Judges say: ‘Entirely original with not a word out of place – as vivid and beautiful as the butterflies themselves.’ A message from the author: ‘At a time when the world seems to be moving deeper towards intolerance, the message that we should be together but not the same, was at the forefront of my mind when writing this book. It’s easy to label people, and labelling means reducing them to one attribute, which in turn makes it easier to dismiss, dehumanise, and persecute. In The Island at the End of Everything, it is down to Ami, and her friend Mari, to find a way home in a society that tells them they are only children, only girls, and so are not in control of their own lives. But of course, this is far from the truth.’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | June 2017 Debut of the Month A heady romance for two adolescences each of whom is coping with a family trauma revolves around a horse, secrets and the terrible pressures of family. Sass, newly arrived in Cornwall to live with her uncle after her mother’s death in a car crash, comes across a beautiful silver horse in a sun dappled meadow and is enchanted. Alex, a moody teenager trying to cope with the expectations put on him, looks after the horse. When Alex offers to teach Sass how to ride Sass is drawn into his world – and the amazing secret of who he really is. Love and loss go hand in hand in a story that reaches across generations as well as capturing the pressures of today. ~ Julia Eccleshare A message from the author: I hope that One Silver Summer is like the best chocolate – not too sweet, but meltingly comforting! As a reader and publisher, I found myself in an editorial meeting wishing for a manuscript that was 'old school' romantic – dramatic and euphoric – set in a place as wild and windswept as Daphne Du Maurier's Cornwall ... but made modern. Then that started me thinking about fairytales and why they're evergreen. Why even today we're still prepared to accept and be fascinated by the idea of monarchy. And I guess the answer is that when life is ordinary – we seek out the extraordinary – when what separates them is a very thin line. Reading fairytales might be escapist, but is there anything better than reading to dream, at least for the length of a book? One Silver Summer is about a girl who finds a horse that leads her to a boy with history to his name. It reflects on the lives of the real-life royals. Glamorous and popular – but living in the full glare of the media. What would it be like to befriend them? In a dreaming field in deepest Cornwall, out of the reach of the world, it might just be possible . . . I imagine. And the fruit and nut? Cornwall. Castles. Horses. And lots of galloping!
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a nutshell: intrigue and treachery at the Tower of London, and a bird’s eye view of the end of Anne Boleyn | Three young people witness the fall and execution of Anne Boleyn in this gripping historical adventure. Chief amongst them is Kit Wagstaffe, adopted son of the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, a boy with a rare gift: he can communicate with the ravens. With flocks of feathered spies to help, Kit discovers a plot against the young Princess Elizabeth, one he is determined to foil out of his loyalty to and affection for Anne. Figures familiar from history lessons are made vivid, breathing characters in this exciting story and though we know how it ends for Anne readers will be moved and saddened viewing events through Kit’s eyes. This is proof of historical fiction’s power to grip and entertain. Pippa Goodhart’s Raven Boy tells another gripping story from within the Tower, in a different century. ~ Andrea Reece Hilary Mantel, Double Man Booker prizewinning author of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies : ‘The Ravenmaster’s Boy is a dark but charming Tudor tale – history with a twist. The events of May 1536 – the days of the fall of the Boleyn regime – are still cloudy and mysterious, and it is possible that the birds of the air know as much as the rest of us about what really happened and why.’
Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month Oh my goodness, this is a rollicking good debut from Maz Evans. Who Let The Gods Out is a super, funny adventure story that will have kids reading long past their bedtime. Poor Elliot is having a very tough time. His mum is poorly, they have serious money problems, a devilishly devious interfering neighbour and school is quite simply a complete nightmare! So the last thing Elliot needs is for a conceited constellation to crash land smack, bang in the middle of his cow shed. Suddenly feisty, fearless Virgo enters his life with ‘a damp, loud splat.’ Together they manage to set free a dangerous and incredibly evil Daemon of Death and before long it is down to Elliot to save the world. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate! This book is laugh out loud hilarious and I just adored each and every character. Elliot is brave and good hearted and going through such a hard time. The Gods were hilarious and I love how Maz has made them so quirky, fallible and bang up to date. There is also a rather special appearance from her Majesty the Queen that was quite simply magnificent. Who Let The Gods Out is the first in a four part series and I for one am very excited to see what happens next for Elliot and his new friends. ~ Shelley Fallows 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!’
One of our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award May 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: beautifully written, totally original, mesmerising storytelling | In the summer of 1727 a group of men and boys, there to harvest birds and eggs, were stranded on Warrior Stac, a pinnacle of rock that pitches out of the Atlantic, ‘as black and fearful as one horn of the Devil himself’. It was nine months before anyone came to collect them. Geraldine McCaughrean has taken these bare facts and imagined the story of those terrible months and the characters of those who endured them. Yes, it’s a mesmerising story of survival, but McCaughrean takes it in different and surprising ways too and, both terrifying and full of dark comedy, it becomes an elemental story of love and faith; of myth and imagination. Indeed, in the hands of one of our very finest writers this bleak, isolated rock becomes a microcosm for the whole world and all its stories. Unmissable. Readers should also seek out Geraldine McCaughrean’s novels The White Darkness and The Stones are Hatching and will also enjoy David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month This inspirational novel about three young Suffragettes from very different backgrounds is at once a riveting character-driven read, and an outstandingly rich account of British social history between 1914 and 1917. Seventeen-year-old Evelyn is exasperated by the unfairness of a society in which her academically disinterested brother is afforded the expensive privilege of going up to Oxford while her genuine desire to broaden her mind is dismissed as pointless. “These university women lead very sad lives, I'd hoped for better things for you - a husband, and a family, and a home of your own,” her mother poo-poo’s. But, shirking familial disapproval, Evelyn joins the Suffragette movement and finds herself at the heart of a highly-charged rally, with serious repercussions. Then there’s May, a flamboyant fifteen-year-old who revels in being different and is encouraged to do so by her liberal Quaker mother. May is also a passionate Suffragette, and passionate, too, about Nell, a working class girl from Poplar. The flowering of their love and lust is brilliantly portrayed, as is the contrast between their respective backgrounds. Then, the political conflict of WWI heralds personal conflicts for the three young women, not least when Nell’s desire to contribute to the war effort angers pacifist May. The nature and struggles of masculinity are also excellently explored through, for example, Nell’s brother who wrestles with "feeling much less of a man than he should be”. This novel is the perfect tribute to the incredible women who blazed a trail during the early twentieth century, and its inspirational scope and storytelling excellence cannot be praised enough. I loved it. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a Nutshell: Soaring soundtrack to resilience and love Real-life grit, gripping mystery, magnificent love story - this second novel from the highly-acclaimed author of Orange Boy is a mighty fine feast of contemporary YA. Sixth-former Indigo hasn’t had the easiest start in life, to say the least. She was only four when her dad murdered her mother, and she now lives with foster mum Keeley. But, while Indigo has a harrowing family history, nothing can suppress her wit and style. She has zebra-striped hair, loves Blondie, and Bailey is besotted with her. With his striking gingery-brown afro and musical talents, he’s no wallflower either, though their backgrounds couldn't be more different (Bailey has a teacher mum and social worker dad and lives in a “posh house” in Hackney). As they strike up a friendship - and more - Indigo is handed another rough deal when her sister announces that she’s going to cut all ties with Indigo, and then there’s the homeless man from her past, who asks Bailey to help him “make things right” for her. Before he knows it, Bailey’s up to his neck in the most difficult of decisions. From the first-rate dialogue that allows the characters’ hearts and souls to shine with authenticity, to the deftly-woven mystery, this is a life-affirming wonder. Londoners will love the in-the-know references to the likes of bus routes, and the music references are top-notch. Real-life grit, gripping mystery, magnificent love story - this second novel from the highly-acclaimed author of Orange Boy is a mighty fine feast of contemporary YA. Sixth-former Indigo hasn’t had the easiest start in life, to say the least. She was only four when her dad murdered her mother, and she now lives with foster mum Keeley. But, while Indigo has a harrowing family history, nothing can suppress her wit and style. She has zebra-striped hair, loves Blondie, and Bailey is besotted with her. With his striking gingery-brown afro and musical talents, he’s no wallflower either, though their backgrounds couldn't be more different (Bailey has a teacher mum and social worker dad and lives in a “posh house” in Hackney). As they strike up a friendship - and more - Indigo is handed another rough deal when her sister announces that she’s going to cut all ties with Indigo, and then there’s the homeless man from her past, who asks Bailey to help him “make things right” for her. Before he knows it, Bailey’s up to his neck in the most difficult of decisions. From the first-rate dialogue that allows the characters’ hearts and souls to shine with authenticity, to the deftly-woven mystery, this is a life-affirming wonder. Londoners will love the in-the-know references to the likes of bus routes, and the music references are top-notch. Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | May 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Coping with bipolar disorder | Finding the courage to shed secrets | Intense, insightful exploration of how it feels to live with bipolar disorder, and finding the strength to reveal who we really are. Sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan’s life is a precarious balancing act. She’s on a strictly managed cocktail of meds to control her dysphoric mania, a form of bipolar disorder which makes sufferers feel simultaneously manic and depressed. Mel is also mourning the death of her brother, who suffered from the same condition and believed that “everyone has a super power.” Mel identifies hers as “the ability to not think about anything I don't want to think about", which she lives out by keeping her condition secret from everyone but her family. But, while this secrecy is how Mel seeks to maintain equilibrium, along with working in an old people’s home, it’s also what causes a huge falling out with her friends. She’s locked into this cycle of secrecy until her new doctor remarks that in order to enjoy the intimacy she craves, she needs to give people the “chance to know and love the real you”. Along her turbulent journey, Mel’s vital relationships with the people she meets in the home are stirringly portrayed, especially David, the grandson of a resident, to whom she opens up. Heart-rending, empathy-inducing and uplifting, reading this novel is an immersive, all-consuming experience that really does resonate long after the final page. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Before meeting his new foster brother, Jack understands what he and his family are ‘getting into’. Fourteen-year-old Joseph almost killed a teacher, and he has a three-month-old daughter, Jupiter, whom he’s never seen. But from the outset, when Joseph storms off the school bus and Jack joins him on the freezing two mile walk, we know he’s found a friend and ally. We know Jack ‘has his back’. At first Joseph won’t be touched, barely speaks and is nervous of milking the cows on Jack’s farm but, as Jack comments, “you can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him”, and the cows love Joseph. Slowly-slowly, Joseph opens up and begins to smile - Jack counts each one of them – but he’s haunted by memories of the girl he loved, Jupiter’s mother, and by her tragic death. Joseph can’t get Jupiter out of his mind either, and so his nightly sky-search for her planetary namesake becomes a heartrending real-world search; he has to find his baby daughter. While further loss lies ahead, this is, ultimately, a remarkable read-in-one-sitting story of friendship, love and the glow of hope that comes from second chances and new life. Joseph’s tragic tale will break your heart, but the tenderness that flows from this flawlessly compact novel will also piece it back together. ~ Joanne Owen
Awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour commendation from the Carnegie shortlist 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | April 2017 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | March 2017 Book of the Month A fitting and truly fabulous end to the breathtaking Broken Trilogy. It’s 1942, nearly two thousand years after time was reset and war and atomic weapons were banned, yet a terrifying regime is attempting to stamp and bully its way across the world. The resistance has a voice, Amity is determined to fight to the bitter end. This is an epic story, 650 pages flew by as my heart sank, wept, and sang. L. A. Weatherly doesn't always allow time to run concurrently, instead significant moments remain hidden, biding their time, waiting to surprise. Uncomfortable truths stride across the page, yet they don’t preach, instead this punchy, vibrant, incredible trilogy allows you to make comparisons, to feel, to think, to decide. l absolutely adore and highly recommend Black Moon, it storms your emotions, echoes the past, and yet, is a warning from the future. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | September 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Stellar story of survival in outer space A uniquely thought-provoking, space-set page-turner with an unforgettable main character whose strength and resolve will leave readers reeling in admiration. Romy is alone in space, decades from Earth. She’s the sole survivor aboard The Infinity, a spacecraft whose crew had been tasked with the mission of establishing “the new home of humanity on Earth II”. After losing her parents at the age of eleven, she’s had to come to terms with being entirely alone. “I just got on with it”, she states, revealing her characteristic, awe-inspiring strength. Then news comes from NASA that another ship has launched and the programme will be pushed forward by over twenty years. Romy is ecstatic that she’ll have company again. This is intensified when she and J, the young Commander of the new ship, start communicating and strike up a close bond, as troubling news comes from Earth. Romy’s experience of falling for J is dazzlingly evoked - every skip of her heart, every frisson of passion - as she imagines them as the Adam and Eve of Earth II. The novel’s darker strands are powerfully done too. Romy is haunted by the traumatic events that forced her into solitude, then there’s the succession of shocking revelations that explode when she begins to question J. To say the twists are unexpected is an understatement. This is one of those rare reads that defies classification. Smart sci-fi; gripping thriller; coming-of-age epic - it’s all this and more. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a Nutshell: Rolling waves of romance in the Californian sun Feel-good fiction at its best: moving, life-affirming, with a heart of sunshiney gold. Movie-loving, vintage-wearing Bailey has found her perfect boyfriend, but with Alex being a West Coast guy and her stuck in Washington with her mom, they’ve never actually met. But life has a habit of dealing unexpected cards, like Bailey moving to out west to California to live with her dad, where she deploys all her detective skills to track down Alex while working a summer job at The Cavern Palace museum. It’s here she meets swaggering surf dude, Porter. While Bailey has Porter down as her arch nemesis, he has an electrifying effect on her, and she’s soon up to her neck in all kinds of conflict. I was a huge fan of the author’s Night Owls, and this confirms her talent for creating protagonists I’d love to meet in real life - outsiders set on pursuing their passions, young women (like Bailey) who scoot around on Vespas with leopard skin seats. With its cast of cool characters, oceans of authenticity, and a wow, pow, wallop of an ending, this YA riff on the ‘You’ve Got Mail’ movie is the perfect summer read. ~ Joanne Owen
Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a Nutshell: Compelling and compassionate account of a pregnant teen fighting an eating disorder | Insightful, authentic and profoundly moving story of a teenager facing the double struggle of discovering she’s pregnant while fighting an eating disorder. Hedda’s initial reaction to news of her pregnancy is that she has to “get rid of it”. With her relationship with her family in tatters, she lives alone in a rundown flat, and how can she possibly carry a baby when Nia (Hedda’s name for her personified eating disorder), tells her “that Thing inside you is going to make you fat”? But then the idea of adoption slips into Hedda’s head and she forms a truce with Nia: “When the baby is safely here and I’ve found it some proper parents, then Nia can have me back”. The arrival of a new neighbour – selfless, sensitive, nineteen-year-old Robin - further brightens Hedda’s outlook, and she begins to wonder if she might be able to bring up her own baby. And then there’s the presence of Molly, a friend from her former clinic, now gone, but a still ray of light in Hedda’s life. Hedda faces some huge decisions as she counts down the days and, with the odds stacked against her, she’s going to need tremendous strength to keep going. With heart-melting empathy, the author conveys how it feels to be in Hedda’s complex situation. I loved her inimitable, imagery-rich voice (“I spot myself, a long smear like a ghost in a shop window”). Yes, Hedda’s story is often heartbreaking, and the knockbacks and obstacles she faces are excruciatingly painful (especially in relation to her family), but the sting of disappointment and difficulty is beautifully offset by the kindnesses of strangers who show that while there’s no easy fix, there is always hope. This is an important, impactful, mightily impressive debut about love, reaching out and taking one step at a time. ~ Joanne Owen
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a nutshell: an unusual and unforgettable wartime love story | Lili Petalo is a trapeze artist in her family’s circus, growing up part of a warm, loving family, proud of her heritage and the Romani customs that inform all they do. Max is fascinated by Lili from their first meeting and gradually a friendship develops that turns to love. But this is 1942, and love between a Romani girl and a German boy is forbidden. The fate of the hundreds of thousands of Romani people who lost their lives in the Nazi death camps has been described as ‘the forgotten Holocaust’; Sarah Matthias paints a vivid portrait of the people and the culture Hitler attempted to destroy and succeeds too in making her young heroes Lili and Max living, breathing characters. An enthralling story of love and loss that deserves to be widely read. The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis is another deeply affecting story of the Holocaust, inspired by real life people and events. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Troika MD Martin West says, ‘Like the best writers of historical fiction Sarah brings the past vividly to life. A celebration of the Romani way of life, and the powerful, moving story of two individuals caught up in history A Berlin Love Song is one of the most compelling and moving stories you will read all year.’
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month | February 2017 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 Mikey thinks the world of his Dad even though he doesn’t see him that often. And when he dies suddenly, Mikey is left with nothing to remember him by except a few fleeting memories of his amazing ability to imitate any voice. With nothing to hang on to, Mikey starts to fall apart. His best mate knows that he must do something to save him and that means finding someone or something that can bring the two together. The search is bleak and dangerous – Mikey’s dad had few friends and many enemies - but the end is triumphant! Phil Earle has created a moving and meaningful story which captures the irreplaceable importance of friendship. ~ Julia Eccleshare A Piece of Passion from Barrington Stoke MD Mairi Kidd: “When Phil first told me the plot of Mind The Gap I had goosebumps. There’s a real power and urgency to Phil’s writing for young adults, and I love that he has taken a touching true story of love and remembrance and fused it with something very raw – an account of terrible grief experienced by a young man who doesn’t really know how to express or process it, and a friend who desperately wants to help. It’s a hugely emotional story, told sparsely and brilliantly.” Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic teen readers. 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. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for February 2017 Young Magicians and the Thieves' Almanac by Nick Mohammed A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins Mind the Gap by Phil Earle The Bolds on Holiday by Julian Clary The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a Nutshell: Deadly dilemmas amidst Star Wars-esque intergalactic enmity | First book in an ambitiously epic sci-fi duology from the author of the Divergent series. Akos lives in the peaceful nation of Thuvhe, part of a galaxy in which some inhabitants are “fate-favored”, and everyone has a “currentgift”, a unique and (usually) beneficial power. Shortly after attending the Blooming Ritual at which his oracle mother addresses an admiring audience in the temple, Akos and his brother are captured by Shotet soldiers. Intensely loyal, Akos is determined to liberate his brother from this enemy world when he encounters smart, sassy Cyra, whose currentgift is being relentlessly exploited by her Shotet ruler brother for his own tyrannical ends. Then, as the nations’ enmity intensifies, the very survival of the two young protagonists hangs in the balance as they’re forced to decide whether they can put their differences aside and work as one. This may be set in a distant fantasy galaxy but it’s abundant in down-to-earth humour (“I don't want to get stuck staring at people's butts like last year”) and distinctly human dilemmas that have universal resonance. Roth’s world-building is astoundingly grand, her characters compellingly complex, and how refreshing it is to see such a strong female heroine in a work of sci-fi. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | January 2017 MEGA Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: the unforgettable story of a girl with no memory Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks? She’s 17 when the book opens, but an accident aged 10 has left her with no short term memory. Then a secret kiss on the beach – with her only friend’s boyfriend – lodges in her mind. Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide. Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too. Unforgettable! ~ Andrea Reece Praise from the publishing team : It’s a rare moment when a book comes in that engages our whole team – and with such force. Flora Banks has made us cry and sit up all night, and we are so excited to bring her to readers everywhere around the world. Francesca Dow, Managing Director Emily’s YA debut compels and completely sweeps me up in its atmosphere every time I read it. In addition to clearly being an extremely accomplished and gripping thriller writer, Emily conveys the light and shade of life as a teenager falling in love and coming of age just brilliantly. To pull off a story narrated by a character like Flora is a fantastic achievement. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Ruth Knowles, Publisher My heart was in my throat from the first line of Flora’s prologue – this is psychological suspense at its best. Emily Barr’s writing is eerier than an Arctic squall and more beautiful than a serene tundra. Natasha Collie, Senior Marketing Officer
Each year thousands of children's books are published and each month we feature around 80 of our favourites, all categorised by age range.
Below, after much debate in the office, are the ones we think are the best of the year.
We hope you enjoy the selection.
Many of them are available in a selection of formats including eBooks.
So, browse away and make sure you haven't missed out on our 'must reads' of 2017.
And why not also check our Book Awards category which lists all the shortlisted and winning books for the most prestigious awards of 2017.