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It is difficult trying to talk in our family cos: a) Grandparents don't speak English at all b) Mum hardly speaks any English c) Me, Bonny and Simon hardly speak Chinese d) Dad speaks Chinese and good English - but doesn't like talking. In other words, we all have to cobble together tiny bits of English and Chinese into a rubbish new language I call 'Chinglish'. It is very awkward. Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in 1980s Coventry with her annoying little sister, too-cool older brother, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. But unlike the other kids at her new school or her posh cousins, Jo lives above her parents' Chinese takeaway. And things can be tough - whether it's unruly customers or the snotty popular girls who bully Jo for being different. Even when she does find a BFF who actually likes Jo for herself, she still has to contend with her erratic dad's behaviour. All Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist. Told in diary entries and doodles, Jo's brilliantly funny observations about life, family and char siu make for a searingly honest portrayal of life on the other side of the takeaway counter.
'Some of the places I am still getting to know, some of these places I have known all my life. All of these places made me, are making me.' All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City - Harlem. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family - and herself - in a new way. But New York City is not exactly what Amara thought it would be. It's noisy, crowded, confusing, and her cousins can be mean. Plus her father is too busy working to spend time with her and too angry to fix his relationship with Grandpa Earl. Amara can't help wondering, even if she does discover more about where she came from, will it help her know where she belongs?
Moya. The M Word. Whisper it. Conceal it. But please, never mention it ... Maggie Yates talks to her best friend Moya every day. She tells her about Maggie's mum losing her job. She tells her that Mum's taken to not opening the curtains and crying in secret. And she tells her about how she plans to cheer Mum up - find her a fella with a bit of cash to splash. Moya is with her every step of the way. You're surfing a rainbow if you think someone like that exists round here, she smiles. But I'll help. But at the back of her mind Maggie knows that Mum's crying is more than sadness. That there are no easy fixes. And that Moya's not really there. Because though she talks to her every day, Moya died months ago ... An unforgettable novel about grief and healing from Costa and Irish Book Award winner Brian Conaghan.
September 2019 Debut of the Month | We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too Frank is ten. He likes cottage pie and football and cracking codes. Max is five. He eats only Quavers and some colours are too bright for him and if he has to wear a new T-shirt he melts down down down. Sometimes Frank wishes Mum could still do huge paintings of stars and asteroids like she used to, but since Max was born she just doesn't have time. When tragedy hits Frank and Max's lives like a comet, can Frank piece together a universe in which he and Max aren't light years apart? This jaw-dropping, heartbreaking and hopeful novel from debut author Katya Balen will remind you we are all made of stardust. For fans of thought-provoking, moving middle grade from Wonder to Skellig.
A House Without Walls is a powerful story of family, hope and redemption amidst the refugee crisis in Syria from the award-winning Elizabeth Laird, illustrated by Lucy Eldridge. Thirteen-year-old Safiya and her family have been driven out of Syria by civil war. Safiya knows how lucky she is - lucky not to be living in a refugee camp, lucky to be alive. But it's hard to feel grateful when she's forced to look after her father and brother rather than go back to school, and now that she's lost her home, she's lonelier than ever. As they struggle to rebuild their lives, Safiya realizes that her family has always been incomplete and with her own future in the balance, it's time to uncover the secrets that war has kept buried.
August 2019 Debut of the Month | “So who is The Black Flamingo?” asks Katy with genuine curiosity.I reply, “He is me, who I have been, who I am, who I hope to become. Someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on” The Black Flamingo follows Michael as he comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen and finds his wings at university as a drag artist. An exploration of a mixed-race LGBTQ+ experience in Britain, The Black Flamingo is a bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2019 | Most of the time Ravi can control his temper but, one day, he lets out the tiger within ... Being a tiger is great fun at first - tigers can do ANYTHING they want! But who wants to play with a growling, roaring, noisy, wild tiger who won't share or play nicely? Ravi is about to discover something very important about expressing his feelings and making amends. A clever and engaging book about temper tantrums, dealing with emotions and learning to express and understand your feelings. The perfect book for helping with bad days and noisy outbursts.
Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died - although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can't handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad's snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt's snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. Crazy name, and she's been through more crazy stuff than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She's tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he's drawn to her, and definitely why he can't seem to shake her. Because there's nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness - and who can maybe even help take it away.
August 2019 Debut YA Book of the Month | In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl. Dinah's whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting.... Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her 'crowning glory'. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now. Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn't the plan. But while she's driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn... In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted author Kit de Waal responds to the classic Moby Dick with entirely new characters, a VW campervan, and by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl who's determined to find a new life, far away from her unconventional upbringing.
The tense, tender must-read book of the summer - perfect for fans of Louise O'Neill and Sara Barnard `You make me feel like there's something good in the world I can hold on to,' Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it's almost hard to breathe. `I love you, Gem. And I promise I'll hold your heart forever.' When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about. But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma's life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control? Told in both Gemma's and Aaron's words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.
Perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Baddiel's Birthday Boy - a hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong that every child will relate to Tom can't wait for his LUCKY BIRTHDAY. It's an EPIC family tradition and he's dreamed up an UNFORGETTABLE party! Only, after several disasters involving a flattened chihuahua and a curse from the tooth fairy, it's been CANCELLED. But Tom won't give up. With the help of his friends (and a pig painted like a zebra), Tom decides to throw himself the party he deserves. What could possibly go wrong?
What a luminously life-enhancing read this is. The story of ADHD afflicted underdog Felix, who “can’t concentrate or keep still”. His East German Granddad now (embarrassingly) drives the pink car that used to belong to his deceased Grandma, whose death has hit them all hard. Felix and Granddad’s grief is laid bare with heart-wrenching authenticity, but theirs is a complex relationship: “I love my granddad and I think he loves me, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.” After an altercation, Felix and Granddad forge an understanding, and look forward to a “neuangfang” (new start) that begins with a list of “Ten things I’d like to teach Felix”. Unfortunately, in Felix’s eyes Granddad’s list comprises the “ten more boring things in the world”, but Felix works through it until only the most dreaded activity remains - playing chess. He tries to wriggle out of it, but “crafty” Granddad has been surreptitiously teaching Felix chess skills and he’s soon hooked by the game, with unexpected positive side effects. A thrilling team tournament is followed waves of pulse-quickening twists that will thrust readers to the edge of their seats, heart in mouth. Throughout, the rollercoaster ride of primary school life - fallings out, friendship, fear of not fitting in - is explored in all its intense and comic complexity, and the representation of working class realisms is spot-on too. Felix’s mum and dad have both been “working stacks since Dad’s plumbing business went bust last year”. But, best of all, the magic of the relationship between children and their grandparents is dazzlingly conjured. I adored it.
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