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A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | February 2021 Debut of the Month | Both touching and funny this is a brilliant story about being brave, being different and learning that being you is what really matters. Billy likes nothing more than making and performing jokes and dreams that one day he will be a famous stand-up comedian. But Billy has a stammer and it can be hard for him even to get a joke out quickly enough. Just now, Billy has a problem which will strike a chord with many: he is about to start secondary school and knows that it will be all too easy for him to become a target for bullies. Especially because of his stammer. Billy thinks of all kinds of schemes to avoiding speaking while also knowing that staying silent goes right against who he really is. How can Billy show his tremendous inner strength and especially his great sense of humour if he never dares to speak? Luckily Billy makes some good friends, meets a great teacher and, drawing on the support of his family and the work of his speech and language therapist, manages not only to survive but also to succeed!
The fourteenth laugh-out-loud, fully-illustrated Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney! A global phenomenon with 250 million copies of the series sold worldwide! Big changes are in store for Greg Heffley and his family. They are making home improvements! But with unwelcome critters, toxic mould and the walls coming down, soon Greg discovers renovations aren't all they are cracked up to be. When the dust finally settles, will the Heffleys be able to stay . . . or will they need to get out of town? WHAT'S IN DIARY OF A WIMPY KID? 50% words, 50% cartoons, 100% hilarious! Stories that all readers can't wait to get their hands on Laughter guaranteed!
A new edition of the bestseller by Teacher Toolkit | This really is what it says on the cover, a teacher’s tool kit. A very professionally researched and well delivered handbook. It reads a little like a good INSET lecture, focusing on various aspects of a teacher’s job and the importance of getting all elements right. It is written in a supportive and informative way and at no point is it patronising (unlike many inset lectures!) The various points are informatively written in concise chapters, with an ‘ideas snapshot’ at the start of each topic and useful references to further reading. The book included many memorable and helpful quotes, such as ‘marking should enhance the performance of the teacher as well as the student’ and to apply the Goldilocks principle, when marking, ‘not too much, not too little’ Remember that feedback should be ‘meaningful, manageable and motivating’ The introduction does suggest that this is a book one can dip in and out of. Personally, I think it is deserving of a complete read. I think once read, you could use various elements to refer to, but I think you would get a lot more from it, to initially read it from cover to cover. The accompanying Visual Guide is packed with great comments, but I found the actual visuals a little overwhelming and stark. Maybe it was the overuse of the colour red, which for me was a little too much in your face. Sadly, whilst we are all working and marking from home, much of the advice in not currently applicable. However, I shall be attempting to remember the great advice and creative ideas to use when we are back in the classroom.
Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | Perfectly-pitched for fans of funny fiction who are ready to move on from early chapter books, Bethany Walker has hit the spot with her debut, Chocolate Milk, X-Ray Specs and Me! This is the kind of book laughter-loving readers of seven upwards will become drawn into and pore over, exhilarated by the silliness of the fast-paced story and absorbed by the ultra-energetic medley of words, pictures and design. Jack Noel’s illustrations do a stupendous job of bringing the craziness to life, with a fine use of typefaces, doodles, postcards and newspaper clippings among the book’s visual features. And what of that craziness? Well, it’s all centred around ten-year-old Freddy who exchanges drama-laden letters with his mum and dad who he thinks are working at a Brussels sprouts farm. In fact, the truth is much crazier…Then there’s the super-strange happenings at school, plus Grandad’s X-ray specs and impending wedding. In Freddy’s words, “OH NO! I’ve just realized I’m going to have to watch Grandad and Mrs Allbright KISS at the registry office. That might be EVEN MORE yucky than sprouts!” What a brilliant blast of a book this is.
The one with the camping trip disaster | The brand new laugh-out-loud, fully-illustrated Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from #1 international bestselling author Jeff Kinney! A global phenomenon with 250 million copies of the series sold worldwide! When Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip, they're ready for the adventure of a lifetime. But their plans hit a major snag, and they find themselves stranded at a campsite that's not exactly a summertime paradise. Things only get worse for the Heffleys when the skies open up and the water starts to rise, making them wonder if they can save their vacation - or if they're already in too deep... You can download a fun new facebook app, Cheese Touch - and find out lots more about Wimpy Kid at the Wimpy Kid Club!
The duo that produced the cultural phenomenon that took the publishing world by storm in 2017, winning awards and sparking dozens of fundraising campaigns to get The Lost Words into every primary school, have now produced a book very different in form, but absolutely kindred in spirit and every bit as essential a purchase. This is a pocket-sized treasure containing twenty-one new ‘spells’- poems inspired by the natural world around us. These animals, birds, trees and flowers may be relatively common but are often underappreciated and ignored. Whereas The Lost Words had a formal triptych structure to its spells, this collection is freer and ranges from celebratory to elegiac and sorrowful. As the introduction says “Loss is the tune of our age, hard to miss and hard to bear.... But there has always been singing in dark times—and wonder is needed now more than ever.” Acrostic poems with the letters picked out in gold, feature most in this collection, as does the poet’s amazing facility with kennings and descriptive word play shown to great comic effect in Woodpecker “Chisel-gouger, head-banger, bark-stripper, nerve-shredder” Structured as a dialogue with badger one can see how much this lends itself to reading and performing aloud as indeed is the author’s intention with all the collection. The lyrical consonant tones or staccato beats of these beautiful spells is absolutely matched by the harmonious fluidity of the watercolour images that grace each page. From the challenging gaze of the red fox to the eyelike whorls of silver birch bark to the balletic wings of the swift wrapping around the words, the images fix the words indelibly into your mind. Lockdown saw a widespread recognition of the necessity for contact with the natural world to maintain health and well-being. This book is the perfect walking companion with a glossary identifying each species depicted, allowing this small but powerful book to do double-duty as an artful field guide. As Macfarlane writes In Goldfinch, apparently composed while sitting at his grandmother’s deathbed, "God knows the world needs all the good it can get right now“.
With all the sparkle of her jewel-encrusted costumes, this terrific book is an access all areas biography of one of the most high-profile, high-achieving women in the world today, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. It begins at her first public performance, age 7, at a school talent contest. Despite her nerves, Beyoncé stole the show and won the competition – the first of many awards she would receive (23 Grammys at the last count). But as the book explains, Beyoncé’s was anything but overnight success – wow, has she worked hard, pouring everything into her career. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story and told so that readers will feel they are there with her, experiencing the stage-fright, the disappointment of losing her first record deal and her determination to make her way on her own terms.It’s super-readable, helped by black and white illustrations on every page, including lots of Beyoncé, in which she addresses us direct. With real insight as well as all the facts, this is a great series and Ms Knowles-Carter’s story a terrific addition to it.
A World of Houses and Habitats | Learn how humans have built dwellings to suit all kinds of habitats. Adapting themselves to all kinds of landscapes and climates, over the centuries humans have used their architectural ingeniousness to build amazing dwellings: find them here, from houses on stilts and igloos to tree houses and skyscrapers. Fully illustrated with clear, engaging artwork and intelligent, simple and original text presented in a clean, appealing design.
Avocado is feeling just fine in the fruit and veg aisle at the supermarket - until a young customer asks a difficult question: Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? Avocado doesn't know the answer either - and the question won't seem to go away! A brilliantly funny book about identity and being confident in your own skin - featuring the world's most popular superfood!
Beautifully illustrated, this gentle story and activity book for ages 4-8 invites children to share how they are feeling - whether happy, sad or somewhere in between, through conversation, drawings or writing. Includes links to a download poster of the Tell-Me Tree for use at home or in the classroom, tips and templates to help children draw their own tree, and links to resources for grown-ups. A book that can be used again and again by parents, teachers and care givers, The Tell-Me Tree helps encourage discussion of feelings with friends, family and trusted grown-ups in a natural way. Written by the bestselling author of The Secret Lake, Karen Inglis. Stunning hand-drawn pen and ink illustrations by Anne Swift.
A globetrotting Penguin is the young reader’s tour guide as they explore the world and broadening a child’s horizons has never seemed more meaningful or relevant. 28 cities are explored within these pages- each city having its own double page spread. There has a been a commendable effort too, to ensure a good global spread of locations and cultures. Children will love pouring over the detail of the map and images of famous landmarks, museums and galleries and examples of food and culture which really bring the city alive and give a flavour of its history and development. The pages are colourful, but the soft tones mean that the pages do not appear too busy and the clever design and judicious use of text boxes does not overwhelm the reader. Each city has a basic fact box detailing the country, language, currency and population which makes for interesting comparisons. Young readers will also particularly enjoy the fun quizzes and games to test their knowledge and understanding. A valuable addition to classroom collections.
April 2020 Book of the Month | Lyla might live in a hi-tech future world in which the moon is colonised and robots a big part of daily life, but the things that really matter are the same they’ve always been: friends, family and learning how to treat them properly. It’s very exciting when Lyla is chosen to look after one of three top-of-the-range cyborg children joining her school and at first Clara 2.2 seems the perfect friend, telling Lyla just what she wants to hear. But real friends do more than pay you compliments, and Clara 2.2’s disregard for anyone other than Lyla soon leads to a fall out with Lyla’s best friend Bianca and then – much worse – puts Lyla’s little brother in danger. There’s lots of fun and humour in the story, but some real tension too and it cleverly delivers a message about what friendship really means, and the importance of kindness.
From the author of Seeing Stars which detailed all 88 known constellations for older children, this stylish and sturdy book introduces just six of the most familiar and recognisable constellations to the very young. Young children like nothing better than books which invite them to guess what is under the flap and here each constellation is introduced by the line-connected star cluster sparkling against the deep blue background of the night sky. As you read aloud the verbal clues, children are asked to guess the creature and the answer is revealed, with more lines filling in the details of the animal, under the flap, alongside more information about the constellation and its major stars. Flaps can be quite flimsy and often considered unsuitable for classroom use but, in this case, it is a solid full-page fold-out that will withstand multiple uses. Children will definitely be inspired to do their own star gazing and to investigate further. Personally, this has helped enormously to understand how constellations got their names and to see the animal properly revealed. I still wonder, however, at the imagination of the Ancients that first connected those dots!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Eva Eland has a way with pictures and words that, although deceptively simple, actually deals with the big matters of life in a very accessible and encouraging way. Her previous book When Sadness Comes to Call gained many outstandingly positive reviews and this follow up book on happiness is going to get the same response. Very expressive, clear illustrations in mainly blues and a wonderful fluorescent pink make this a happy experience to read. Eland looks at the ways we may chase happiness or happiness may just creep up on us but finishes with the phrase ‘Happiness begins with you.’ Definitely a book for classrooms, libraries and PHSE lessons – it will encourage empathy as children start to understand their own and the emotions of others, as well as being a satisfying book to read.
This classic children’s book (first published in the 1960s) follows the ‘fortunately, unfortunately’ format, and is an example of storytelling at its very best. Tiger finds Boy sitting on a rock and demands he run to avoid being eaten. Boy explains he’s too tired to run, he’s just escaped Rhino. He recounts his narrow escapes (‘That’s good,’ says Tiger) and Rhino’s determined pursuit (‘That’s bad’) until his story concludes with a wonderful twist that will delight children. There’s an air of spontaneity and excitement that’s hard to beat and Aliki’s bold, expressive, child-like illustrations look as fresh as ever in this handsome new edition.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | Taking a philosophical approach, this is a comprehensive look at the challenging question: What is Time? Having posed the question, author and illustrator Kathrin Köller and Irmela Schautz take readers through the past and present stories, myths and symbols of time from around the world which help to explain some of the mysteries which we all experience. These set the scene for a detailed look at the realities of how time is recorded and counted before closing with a section on travelling through time as in across time zones and in futuristic fantasies.
The Mr Men have a fun and busy time in Ireland in this new adventure in the much-loved series. The reason for their trip? Mr Chatterbox decides that Mr Quiet needs to learn the gift of the gab and where better for that than the Blarney Stone? Joining them on their trip are Little Miss Lucky, eager to find a four-leaf clover, Mr Noisy, who has a wonderful time singing at a Kilkenny folk festival, and Little Miss Splendid. They have a great time, visiting the Titanic Exhibition in Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway as well as Dublin. There are jokes and comic incidents galore, but readers will get a good sense of the Emerald Isle too. Fun first reading.
There’s an infectious enthusiasm about this book that will inspire every reader to look around their local train station with new eyes, or to take train trips specially to explore other lines and destinations. Author Vicki Pipe, ably assisted by Geoff Marshall (look out for Geoff’s Fun Facts text boxes – they’re irresistible), identifies fifty fascinating things to see and discover across the railways of England, Scotland and Wales and they range from tunnels, viaducts and lists of the smallest stations, to trees, railway pets and the people who keep the whole system moving. You get a great sense of the history of train travel in the UK and exciting glimpses into the future. A fact-filled information book compiled by people with a passion to match their knowledge.
When snow shuts down Greg Heffley's middle school, his neighbourhood transforms into a wintry battlefield. Rival groups fight over territory, build massive snow forts, and stage epic snowball fights. And in the crosshairs are Greg and his trusty best friend, Rowley Jefferson. It's a fight for survival as Greg and Rowley navigate alliances, betrayals, and warring gangs in a neighbourhood meltdown. When the snow clears, will Greg and Rowley emerge as heroes? Or will they even survive to see another day? With millions of books sold around the world in 65 editions and 56 languages, Wimpy Kid has turned millions of kids into readers.
Four very different characters take centre stage in this unusual and beautifully illustrated book. There’s a horse, wise and reliable; a boy, Christopher Robin-like in his curiosity and kindness; a mole, driven by an optimism, and love of cake; and a fox, vulnerable and in need of love and understanding. The story of their friendship is told through Charlie Mackesy’s evocative pen and ink sketches. Most but not all are accompanied by three or four lines of text, not so much a narrative but rather meditations, little flashes of insight into the human condition: “We have such a long way to go,” sighed the boy. “Yes, but look how far we’ve come,” said the horse. It’s a book full of tenderness and compassion, with much to make readers smile and more yet to prompt a sense of forgiveness, even of ourselves. Though simple enough for the youngest children, words and pictures will resonate just as much with adult readers. A very special book.
This beautiful, atmospheric book captures the special magic of Christmas for readers of all ages. A young boy, just beginning to wonder whether Father Christmas is real, lies in bed hoping to hear sleigh bells. But instead of a sleigh, a huge train pulls up outside and takes him, together with other pyjama-clad children, off to the North Pole. There the boy meets Father Christmas and choses his present – a sleigh bell. It rings for him that Christmas and every one until he’s an old man, the sound always equalling the first gift of Christmas. This is a book that really does conjure up all that is magic about Christmas and Liam Neeson’s reading on the accompanying CD does it full justice, his rich voice full of doubt, breathless anticipation and joy. Start a Christmas tradition and enjoy this with the whole family on Christmas Eve.
July 2019 Debut of the Month | A trip to the natural history museum with Grandad fills George with a passion for bugs. He determines to build up a collection and though it’s not easy at first slowly learns the best ways to catch them, filling jars with butterflies, beetles, worms, moths and spiders. It’s satisfying, but something’s not right. Grandad notices it too: with no bugs, everywhere is too quiet, dull and sad. Together they release the bugs and transform their garden into an insect sanctuary. The story is filled with action and movement and the pages are packed with detail. I love the way George chases after his bugs with such a loping stride and the relationship between him and his grandfather is tender and convincing.
Astrid has always loved the stars and space. I want to be an astronaut! she says. While Mama is away, Papa and Astrid have fun acting out the challenges an astronaut faces on a space mission - eating food from a tube, doing science experiments, living and sleeping in near-zero gravity. Astrid can do it all! Then it's time to meet Mama at the airbase. But where has Mama been?
Following their adventures in The Battle of the Blighty Bling, the McScurvy children are back where they belong on their pirate ship Sixpoint Sally. But not for long: as they prepare to enter the famous Hornswaggle Boat Race their nemesis, Captain Guillemot, aka the vainest pirate on the south coast, steals their ship from right under their noses, and with their parents on board to boot. They can’t let him get away with that, and with the help of their friends Arabella and George, go all out to get the boat and their parents back – and win the race in the process. It’s another fast-paced comic adventure and any right-minded child will love the McScurvy’s can-do attitude, not to mention their wilful disregard of rules and good behaviour.
April 2019 Book of the Month | The tables are turned in Jeff Kinney’s new comic adventure and the wimpy kid telling the story and steering the action is Rowley Jefferson, Greg Heffley’s best friend. As Greg’s long-suffering sidekick he deserves his turn in the spotlight, though as he apologetically points out, most of the book is still about Greg. The boys’ escapades, quarrels and daft schemes are just as funny as when we hear them via Greg. No-one does the straight to camera narrative style of the diary better than Kinney and no matter how straight Jeff tells it, our understanding of the action is often quite different to his. This is as authentic and funny as the original Wimpy Kid books and makes just as irresistible reading.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Lubna found the pebble on the beach the night she and her father arrived on a boat. Now Pebble is her only friend in the tent city where she lives. When Amir arrives, Lubna and Pebble befriend him and help him to talk again. This is a wise, gentle story about the possibility of kindness in even the bleakest situations.
March 2019 Book of the Month | The setting for Rebecca Patterson’s lively story of friends falling out is Earth eighty years in the future, and quite a lot has changed. People are getting around in flying cars, real food has pretty well been replaced by acquagrown substitutes, and the Moon has been colonised. The school playground is patrolled by cyborgs, but the children in it are the same as they’ve ever been. Lyla has been best friends with Bianca since nursery, but when a cool new girl joins the class, she finds herself pushed out. How can she win back her friend, and why does no-one see just how mean Petra is? The story is short and full of humour, but still carries a lot of weight and for all the fun and adventures will set readers thinking about how we treat other people, and how we’d like to be treated in return. This is a really good story for newly confident readers.
Clued-up creative activists Chelsea and Jasmine attend a New York school that’s proud of its progressive approach, with classes and clubs called things like Science for Social Justice and Poets for Peace and Justice. But, while forward-thinking liberalism is supposed to lie at the heart of their school’s ethos, Jasmine and Chelsea are infuriated by its evident neglect of women’s rights: “It feels like everyone outside Amsterdam Heights is taking it seriously, but here, it’s like we think the work is done… But it’s not”. When Chelsea’s drama teacher tries to coax her to develop a stereotypical “sassy and angry” black female character, she’s inspired to set up the Write Like a Girl club with a punch-packing feminist blog that sets off a whole lot of buzz in the school community. Alongside attempts to silence the girls’ powerful voices and direct action, Jasmine faces painful personal loss, but they remain strong, firmly fixed on changing the status quo “from the inside out”. Insightful on gender inequity, and the intersection of gender and race, this comes highly recommended for fans of Angie Thomas. Chelsea and Jasmine’s story is a smart and awe-inspiring call to action, a vital novel with the power to empower a generation of young women, much like co-author Renée Watson’s previous book, Piecing Me Together.
This high-octane, high-stakes London-set thriller is a fast-paced read with contemporary resonance about kids who get caught up in gang culture as a result of being forgotten by government and overlooked by adults. Orphan Ollie’s life is turned upside-down when his guardian is captured and attacked in front of him and he discovers The Haven, a secret subterranean organisation of kids and teenagers who look after and educate each other with no adult intervention. “We’ve come to realise that grown-ups don’t always have kids’ interests at heart,” explains one of The Haven’s leaders. This stimulating set-up is propelled by a gripping race against time to find a missing kid, the murderous menace of a woman bent on destroying the city, and the threat that The Haven itself might be dying as a result of diminishing incomers and depleting donations from former members. The compellingly thought-provoking concept is deftly delivered through accessibly snappy writing and, as such, I’d recommend it to reluctant readers and those with shorter attention spans as well as devoted fans of teen thrillers, providing as it does an instant hit of action, intrigue and narrative energy. What’s more, this is the first in a series, and readers will no doubt be left eagerly awaiting the second instalment.
February 2019 Book of the Month | The Heffleys head off on holiday in this latest Wimpy Kid adventure. It’s supposed to be a dream break but, as recounted by wimpy kid Greg in his usual doleful, deadpan way together with the action-filled comic-strip style illustrations, is pretty much a non-stop catalogue of disasters, from the moment the Heffleys pick up the wrong luggage on their (delayed) flight, to insect, bird and lizard attacks, a burst banana boat and nightmare cruise. It makes for very funny reading of course, and Kinney as ever absolutely nails family and teen life – I particularly enjoyed the subplot describing the miserable time had by big brother Roderick. Holiday reading doesn’t get any better than this.
Join Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tittlemouse and lots of other animal friends inside. Peter Rabbit 123 is accompanied by Peter Rabbit ABC and is published by Frederick Warne & Co., publishers of Beatrix Potter's Original Peter Rabbit books.
Beginning by looking at the role of women in the 19th Century and ending with the continuing struggle for equal rights for women in all parts of society, this is an essential read for young people aged 10 plus to understand the history of the women's movement on suffrage. It includes the suffragists' campaign.The book is published ahead of 2018 - a landmark year that marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. This finally gave the vote to some women for the first time (women over 30, who owned property) and also gave the vote to all men (up until then, only about two-thirds of men had the vote). The Houses of Parliament are celebrating this centenary with their 'Vote 100' project. 2018 will also be the 90th anniversary of women gaining full voting equality with men in 1928.
December 2018 Book of the Month | | I relished the first two books in this series (The Dark Days Club and The Dark Days Pact) and this final Bath-set instalment is a fittingly thrilling feast of fantastical foe-fighting and illicit liaisons. Spirited Lady Helen might be in the throes of finalising her wedding plans, but she has far greater matters to attend to, such as defeating the Grand Deceiver. Alongside the high-stakes, high-octane action, the delicious duplicity of Helen’s double-life existence further flavours this novel with edge and intrigue. While “her aunt and uncle, along with the rest of society, were under the impression that she had spent the last six months enjoying the delights of Brighton and Bath”, Helen had, in fact, been engaged in “killing murderers, and becoming one half of the Grand Reclaimer with Lord Carlston” as a member of the demon-fighting Dark Days Club. Talking of whom, Helen’s relationship with Carlston is a frisson-fuelled delight, thronging with “will they? Won’t they?” tension. Wildly inventive, and driven by the vitalities and conflicts of an engaging heroine, this trilogy is a magnificent melange of history, fantasy and heart-pounding passion.
Packed with fabulous photos and page after page of facts, stories and behind-the-scenes information on the making of the films, this is a treat for any Harry Potter devotee. Life at Hogwarts is its theme and it gives us close ups of school life, from the sorting ceremony to the teachers and lessons, and the school ghosts. It’s a fun way to test your knowledge of the Harry Potter world, while the information on how the scenes, props and costumes were created is fascinating. Little extras including a page of stickers and packs of pull out postcards make it even more fun.
November 2018 Book of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | A stunningly original ocean adventure by a one-of-a-kind author whose work defies convention and abounds with a purity of ideas and execution. Kel was “always running away from something”, seeking escape “from the world she inhabited within and the world that bullied her from the outside”. She’s a swamper, born oceans apart from the wealthy tower people who live in the same Cornish coastal community. She’s also an unforgettable heroine, a girl with danger in her eyes, a baby to care for and “a stupid heart that beat wrong and was shaped wrong and had wrongness stretched clean through it”. Kel “didn’t want what the tower people had; she only wanted two things, a heart she could rely on and freedom from kin”, which is why she kidnaps Rose, the daughter of a cargo ship captain. Kel plans to use her ill-gotten gains to travel to South America to have a heart operation, because in the UK “swamp folk don’t get operations”. Aboard the ship Kel tracks down Rose and forces her to board a smaller vessel, soon running into trouble when the engine fails amidst scenes of devastation on the mainland. Steering clear of well-worn clichés, Carthew’s stories cut to the heart of human experience, often portraying and championing life’s underdogs and outsiders. What a thrilling, thought-provoking novel this is, brimming with perilous encounters, and the rawness of real-life relationships.
November 2018 Book of the Month | The weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit the Harry Potter universe are a huge part of its appeal, fascinating fans or sending shivers down their spines. This book features some of the most amazing, including those that live in the Forbidden Forest and the Dark Lake, the dark creatures, and – of course – the dragons. Interspersed between pages of illustration and photographs, alongside information on how the creatures were created for the films, are beautiful, three dimensional dioramas, delicate layered paper cut-outs creating scenes of excitement and adventure, that themselves feel genuinely magical. A very handsome book.
This classic quest story is perfect for animal-loving adventure-seekers, replete with a kaleidoscope of characters and a high-stake journey driven by the colossal courage of one small creature. Byx is the lowliest member of her dwindling dairne pack, a mythical doglike species that’s on the verge of being hunted to extinction. While she was “used to being last”, she “did not want to be the last to live”. She “did not want to be the endling” of the dairnes and so when she finds herself alone, indomitable Byx embarks on a perilous quest to find others of her kind, encountering new allies as she braves war-ravaged lands. The writing is pacey and infused with much courage, compassion and hope, and a sparkling sense of legend. This is a heartily nourishing novel for 9+ year-olds with a thirst for fantasy, and readers who love animals and nature.
Tales of Ramion | In a sleepy Old Vicarage in deepest Kent, Frank Hinks is preparing his three young sons, Julius, Alexander and Benjamin for bed, but as the sun goes down in Shoreham the adventures are just beginning in the riotous world called Ramion that Frank creates for the boys in his nail-biting bedtime stories... ...In which the boys and their warrior Dream-Lord cat Snuggle have wild escapades and meet all sorts of strange creatures from Racing Racoons and the half demented rabbit Scrooey-Looey to Eric the Dragon and his son Drago.
In the magical forest there are Globerous Ghosts, Venomous Vampires, Scary Scots and Mystic Mummies, who (like other mummies) cannot stand boys who pick their noses. The boys are in constant danger of being turned into ghostly globs, piles of dust or being exploded by very loud bagpipe music. Thankfully, Ducky Rocky, Racing Racoons and the Hero Hedgehogs are there to help.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Buckle up for an exhilarating, twisting, tormenting ride, Throne of Glass fans! The long-awaited conclusion to this expansive, thrill-a-minute extravaganza of high-stakes sass and skirmishes is here, and it certainly won’t disappoint the author’s legions of readers. Indomitable Aelin has dealt with everything that’s been thrown at her during her superhuman journey from slave to assassin to leader, but she now faces – of course! - her greatest, most tortuous challenge yet. Surrendering to the Queen of the Fae would mean dooming her loved ones’ destinies, but things aren’t looking hopeful from inside the iron coffin the Queen has her locked in, and she must muster every last drop of fight. There’s grit and glamour, gutsiness and conflict, not to mention the unexpected turns taken by characters readers are truly invested in. The sheer scale of this immense six book series means it’s quite a commitment to sign-up to, but its continued success shows that it’s a commitment fans of epic, female-fronted fantasy are gratified with making. As ever, the writing is crisp, direct, and dialogue-driven, with plenty of visual fireworks thrown in. A fitting finale, if ever there was one.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Max Einstein is a genius; aged 12 she’s already enrolled herself at university, where she’s careful to score perfect Cs in every test (she doesn’t want to stand out). She’s also an orphan who lives in a squat. Two very different groups of people have plans for Max though – the CMI (Change Makers Institute) and the equally mysterious but far more sinister Corp. Whisked away to study with other super-brainy kids, she’s challenged to bring about real change for good. The spirit of Einstein runs through this – it’s endorsed by the Einstein Archives – and in particular his belief that the imagination is more important than knowledge. Max uses her imagination and compassion together to dream up ways to improve the world. If anyone’s going to save the planet it will have to be the next generation, and this book could be the inspiration they need. As with lots of Patterson’s children’s books, this is smart, funny and fast moving, with real heart beneath the slick packaging.
Amy Wilson continues to make her mark as an author of sparklingly original fantasy adventures for the young, and Snowglobe makes magical reading. Clementine’s mother disappeared when she was just two, and now ten years later, Clem is a shy, lonely girl, bullied at school for some unpindownable otherness. Wandering alone through the small town where she and her father live, she discovers a strange old house, and in it an even stranger woman. In rooms filled with enchanted snowglobes Clem makes a friend, and is offered the chance to bring back her mother too, if she is brave enough. A story of spells and sibling rivalries, of embracing who you are no matter what others think, and as much about loyalty, steadfastness and love as The Snow Queen or Tam Lin, this story will envelop readers in its beautiful icy world.
Interest Age 9+ Reading Age 8 | Set in a future world in which kids risk their lives for real playing an online fantasy game, Virus is a nerve-tingling combination of science-fiction and martial arts extravaganza. Scott knows that playing Virtual Kombat will put his life in danger, but the only way to destroy the game is from the inside, and he really wants to avenge the death of his friend. In this he’s helped by a group of techno-hackers, but when it comes to the crunch, his tae kwon do skills mean he’s on his own against powerful opponents. Chris Bradford is an expert at keeping the tension high and this is page-turning, super-readable adventure.
Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They've heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It's a place that outsiders can never find - but Kellen is getting desperate. He's been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else - and that they even know how to cure it. Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone - and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.
Set in a land evocative of Russian folk tales, a land frozen in a “winter that came and never left”, this atmospheric adventure swirls with middle grade magic. Three sisters and their brother are parentless in a wintry wilderness when a mysterious man appears. A stranger who doesn’t sink into the snow as others do. A stranger who jokes that Oskar must be cursed to have three sisters. Soon after, Oskar vanishes, as do the other boys of their village, and Mila is convinced that he’s been taken by the fabled bear of her Papa’s tales, and so she bravely ventures north, desperate to find him beyond the winter world they’re bound in. Elaborately embroidered with lyrical conjurations of landscape, and a sense of grief and sorrow, above all else this exudes sisterly strength and comes recommended for fans of traditional tales, and those who enjoyed The Wolf Wilder.
Best known for his action-packed Alex Rider series, Anthony Horowitz is also a master of the macabre, as evidenced by these ten terrifying tales. Take the gruesome opener, “Bet Your Life”, that sees 16-year-old Danny participate in the finale of a TV quiz show in which there’s much more at stake than the multimillion pound prize. Other sources of shock include the sinister sat nav in a stolen BMW, a rogue Robo-Nanny, a monumentally messed-up French exchange, and a deeply disturbing incarnation of eBay on which people bid to buy humans. Then there’s the centrepiece of “Are You Sitting Comfortably?”, a monstrous massage chair that serves a generous helping of just desserts to an exploitative stepdad. The stories are sharply crafted, and the writing wryly amusing, with “Note from the Chairman of Walker Books” providing a deliciously dark denouement, and added in-the-know gallows humour to those in the children’s book world. This is a tense, twisted, treat for fans of frightsome fiction, with the bite-sized narrative bursts making it ideal for reluctant readers.
Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Kate DiCamillo’s unforgettable Raymie Nightingale, now she has her own story, and what a tale it is. Louisiana has always believed that her parents were high wire stars, killed in an accident when she was very young, but driven by terrible toothache and an urge to come to terms with her own past, her granny suddenly reveals that everything Louisiana knows about her life is a lie. Abandoned in a motel miles from her old home in Florida, Louisiana is left to decide who she wants to be. She is befriended by a boy called Burke Allen and his family including his seventeen cake baking mother, and the kindness of strangers helps her to new happiness and security. A story of grief and confusion becomes one of love, hope and resilience. DiCamillo writes with extraordinary sensitivity and perception, and readers of all ages will be touched and moved by Louisiana’s story. Readers who enjoy this book should also read The Road to Ever After by Moira Young.
There are all sorts of different animals in this collection of new stories by favourite children's authors and lots of different settings for their adventures; young readers will love them all. Linda Chapman's opening story features snow leopards in Mongolia, while Candy Gourlay's is all about pandas in China. Michael Broad describes a special Christmas truce between moose and wolves, while closer to home, Leila Rasheed sprinkles a bit of Christmas magic over the story of a kitten finding a new home. Whether funny, surprising, exciting or thought-provoking, each story is perfectly told. Just the thing to go under the tree, or to share at bedtime as the nights draw in.
Young readers will very much enjoy Holly Webb’s typically touching new story, in which a mischievous cat works magic across the generations. Bel is staying with her grandma in her new home, an old house converted into flats for the elderly. Sneaking out early to enjoy an unexpected snowfall, she befriends a cheeky white cat but is surprised when she meets his owner, a young girl the same age as herself, but very different. In fact Bel has travelled back in time and because of her magical meeting with Snow and Charlotte, a young girl’s life is saved. Filled with warmth and love and with a neat balance between jeopardy and security, this is rounded off in the most satisfying way possible. A snowy treat!
Nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal | Humorous and heartbreaking debut novel with the fresh, funny, honest voice of a 14-year-old Geordie lad recounting the trials and tribulations of family life and finding first love. Danny's mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good - Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can't deny he's got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they're not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he's never met. Set in Newcastle and Edinburgh, this supremely readable coming-of-age drama tackles domestic violence head on, but finds humour and hope in the most unlikely of- places.
Lively and cannily told, this rollicking adventure mixes sci-fi, fantasy and ancient mythology. Aidan and his mum have a secret, a very unusual one: she is part dragon, able to breathe fire and with sharp, scaly claws for fingers. They’ve managed to keep this hidden, but just after Aidan has started school after years of home-schooling, someone finds out and Mum is kidnapped. With the help of his new friend Charlotte, Aidan sets out to rescue her. It turns out Mum is in real danger, along with some other unusual prisoners… The mix of ordinary life and fantasy is very well handled, and the narrative – mostly handled by Aidan but with interjections from Charlotte, and a mysterious third voice – will keep everyone on tenterhooks.
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 |One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive. The Costa Judges said: ‘Chime, resonance and sparkle – a truly great read.’
Bart self-describes as boring – in a school full of high-achieving middle-schoolers, he only stands out because he’s so dull. But if that’s so, how come his story involves bizarre creatures, last-minute escapes, daring computer hacks, double crosses, and even the threat of total global destruction? The only way to find out is to read it… No-one knows more about the creation of unputdownable fiction than James Patterson, and this is another sure-fire hit combining sharply observed school life with computer game action and surprisingly touching family dynamics. Boring it ain’t, and despite the easy-reading feel there’s lots to get kids thinking as they race through the pages.
After centuries of mystery, the mythical Magical Unicorn Society has published its official handbook. These learned lovers of unicorns have created a treasure chest of unicorn lore - the facts, the fiction, the where, why and what of these elusive beasts. This is the ultimate gift for anyone who truly believes. Discover the myth of the Gold and Silver Unicorns, and the legendary stories of the seven unicorn families. Find out about their unique powers, where they live around the world, what unicorns eat and how to have the best chance of spotting one. Learn about the history of the Magical Unicorn Society - from its foundation to the present day - and how to become a member. With breathtaking artwork from Helen Dardik and Harry and Zanna Goldhawk (Papio Press), and stunning design and production, this special book gallops through a history of these mythical creatures and looks at their magical future.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Tilly loves stories and has firm favourites among their characters. She can so easily imagine conversations with Anne from Anne of Green Gables or Alice from Wonderland. But she never expects to actually meet them! When Tilly finds that she has entered the story herself – and particularly when she takes her friend Oskar with her too – she knows that something very strange indeed is happening. Can a trip to the wonderful Underlibrary sited deep in the British Library itself illuminate just what is happening to Tilly and how her beloved grandparents are involved too? Anna James weaves a richly invented story with great skill and makes every passionate reader’s greatest dream of being able to hang out with their favourite characters come true.
October 2018 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | A heartfelt, hard-hitting, super-readable novella about the life-affirming, life-saving friendship that blossoms between a young teenager and her 59 year-old neighbour. All sweet-hearted Aman wanted was for her dad to stay a little longer, but he died before she had chance to read her special letter to him. While grappling with grief, she’s bullied by a bunch of older kids, but thankfully new neighbour Gurnam intervenes to scare them off. While Aman sees Gurnam as her “personal superhero”, she notices a sadness about him, but he won’t reveal the cause of his pain. The truth is revealed with poignant, page-turning urgency, leading to a shocking finale that sees Aman grasp a second vital chance to read her love-filled letter. There’s so much humanity and soul in this short gem of a story. While the content is YA, this is written for those with a reading age of 8+, in a lucid, gripping style that tells it like it is and gets to the core of the characters’ hearts. I relished every word.
STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are important to all aspects of our lives, from construction to space exploration, from the digital world to caring for the natural one. Here are 40 quick, easy to access STEM activities that can be done just as easily at home as at school; you don’t need to be an expert to carry them out, and yes, they really do take just 15 minutes. They are all hands on and will encourage curiosity, for example, experimenting with soap bubbles explains tensile structure, Newton’s third law of motion is demonstrated using a balloon and some bits of cardboard, while you can find out about kinetic energy while making a catapult. Practical, fun and instructive.
September 2018 Book of the Month | From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact.
Manchán is the kind of boy who loves mucking about with his best friend, regularly gets into scrapes, and is horrified at the career path his mum has chosen for him - no way can he become a monk. Yes, a monk, because while Manchán shares all the characteristics of a modern boy, he lives centuries ago when there were wolves and druids in the forests, and Vikings on the seas. His world is presented as something of a dream for today's children, days can be spent picking blackberries or messing about in coracles, and a pig can be your pet. In a series of self-contained adventures, we get to know Manchán, his family, Muck his pig, and best friend Pagan-of-the-Six-Toes very well, and spending time with them is a real treat; John Chambers even wins readers round to the view that 'monking', as Manchán describes it, might not be that bad after all. Charming, quirky, and lots of fun.
October 2018 Debut of the Month | | 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.
In the second of the Badlands adventures, J.R. Wallis creates another tense, exciting story, underpinned by thoughtful questions about courage, free will and the temptations of power. Our three central characters, Ed/Jones, Ruby and Thomas Gabriel all have complicated relationships with the magic that is crucial to the strange world they inhabit: Ed wants to be rid of it completely; Ruby wants recognition that girls can be magicians; while Thomas Gabriel is desperate – dangerously so – to acquire magical skills. It seems that all their problems could be solved in one go, but there are challenges to overcome first, that bring them up against some really frightening creatures. The magical world described is original and convincing, drawing much from old Anglo-Saxon legends in fact, and there’s more than enough action to keep the pages turning. The moral dilemmas faced by the characters feel equally real, and add to the satisfaction of the story. One to recommend to fans of Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series.
“Ghosts are everywhere...Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.” So claims Cass, the awesomely amiable heroine of this atmospheric treat for pre-teen readers. But, in Cass’s case, she actually can see ghosts, and her adorable best friend Jacob just happens to be one. Her gift of supernatural sight comes in very handy for her parents, a pair of bungling ghost-hunters called The Inspectres. While they’re on a TV show assignment in eerily-evoked, phantom-ridden Edinburgh, Cass meets a fellow ghost see-er (an In-betweener) and quickly becomes caught up in a high-stakes mission that forces her to hone her gift while traversing the worlds of the living and the dead. Alongside the smart concept and rollicking action, Cass and Jacob’s friendship (replete with fun Friendship Rules, and cemented by their love of comics), gives this tale a tingly, warm glow. Quirky, cute and creepy, this is middle grade fiction at its most entertaining.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Author of the Year, British Book Awards 2018 | | 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.
Packed full of interesting facts and quirky details, presented in bite-sized chunks of text and vibrant illustrations The Awesome Book of Space lives up to its name. Adam Frost was the worthy winner of the Blue Peter Best Book of Facts 2016 with The Epic Book of Epicness and brings his eye-catching style and enthusiasm to the subject of space covering space travel, planets and stars but with plenty of bizarre facts too such as on Mars snowflakes are square, Russian cosmonauts change their pants once a week and the most likely day to see 'aliens' is the 4th July! With the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings in 2019 there will be many books published on this subject but for 5-9 year olds you'd struggle to find an more entertaining and informative source.
How many kids would like to be able to read minds? Imagine what it would be like to know whether your friend really likes you better than anyone else, or if the teacher is planning a surprise test. When Matt is bequeathed a strange crystal he’s amazed to discover it gives him the power to listen in on what people are thinking. At first it seems fantastic, but with superpowers come responsibilities and Matt has to learn – and quickly – when is a good time to engage in a bit of mind-reading, and when isn’t. Typical of Pete Johnson’s writing, this has an exciting, fast-moving plotline that will keep the pages turning, and Matt is a thoroughly recognisable character, even in this extraordinary situation. Great fun.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Best friends Molly and Beth have a very special power: they can time travel! When Molly’s dad comes to live nearby, the girls realise that he is very lonely. He doesn’t see his only brother and he flatly refuses to have any kind of pet. How can the girls help him? Going back in time to the 1970s, Molly and Beth try to find out something from the past that can help them to cheer Dad up. Arriving at the time of Dad’s childhood they find that much was very different in the 1970s – cassettes for playing music, unfamiliar groups like The Bay City Rollers, some very weird hairstyles and clothes and no mobile phones! They also find out the misunderstanding when they were little boys that explains why Dad and his brother aren’t friends. A great new adventure for Molly and Beth who previously appeared in Time After Time and Stand By Me.
Three young friends set out on a summer road trip, each one carrying secrets and sorrows. Squashed into a battered old car, fuelled by warm beer and pub pies, they bicker and tease, with the ease that only comes from deep familiarity. We know even as they set out that they will never make another trip like this, that it’s the closing moment to one part of their lives. Filled with the sense of hot, dusty days, the lull between end and beginning, this is a classic summertime novel. More than just a coming-of-age story, it perfectly captures a transformative moment in the lives of its three central characters, and turns it into something that rings true for us all.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | Mel Darbon’s contemporary love story stars Rosie, who is 16 and has Down’s syndrome; and Jack, who attends the same college in a specialist unit. When Jack, who has anger management issues, is sent away to a residential treatment centre, Rosie is determined to see him again, whatever it takes. Her father disapproves of their relationship, so Rosie is very much on her own in this. It’s very rare to find a novel for YA readers narrated in the first person by a disabled character and Rosie’s voice is unique and feels totally authentic. Her journey is as challenging as you’d imagine, and dangerous too, and readers will finish the book full of love and admiration for Rosie and with a better understanding of the difficulties faced by those with disabilities. Highly recommended.
Rib-tickling, thought-provoking, wonderful fun with a little history thrown in for good measure. Johnny returns, with his quirky gang of friends, this time hurtling into the past on board a slightly dysfunctional time travelling shopping trolley. First published in 1996, the beauty of the writing means that it still feels relevant, is fabulously funny, and quite quite bonkers. This is Terry Pratchett at his best, yes it is predominately a book for kids, however I thoroughly enjoyed it, I suppose that makes me a big kid! Mark Beech illustrations grace the start of each chapter, perfectly summing up what is to come. Showing how the past shapes the present, and always surrounds us, Johnny and the Bomb is quite possibly my favourite in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.
Menace, madness and medieval adventure abound in this thrilling fourth volume of the atmospheric Order of Darkness series by a doyenne of historical fiction. Luca Vero belongs to the Order of Darkness and has been charged with investigating disturbing occurrences that seem to herald the imminent end of the world. Travelling through medieval Europe with Lady Isolde and her companion Ishraq, he witnesses the alarming outbreak of “dancing sickness”. As Luca seeks to discover the truth behind this phenomenon – are the victims possessed by Satan? – Isolde herself succumbs to an overwhelming urge to dance after acquiring an irresistible pair of scarlet shoes from a travelling tradesman. Alongside being an epic adventure, and richly rewarding for history and mystery buffs, a powerful thread about rejecting prejudice and hatred weaves its way through this novel. “You have to do the right thing, not just the certain thing... Surely you want to be a good lord, not just a powerful one?” Such remarks about social responsibility and acting honorably resonate sharply, as does a potent sense of female empowerment. While women were believed to “have little determination and they are not strong”, the principle female protagonists here display much resolve, with Isolde determined to raise an army to win back her inheritance from her brother, and Ishraq being a highly educated free woman.
September 2018 Book of the Month | An uplifting, authentically-voiced novella about finding your way from a bestselling YA author, and a pre-eminent publisher of inclusive fiction. Frizzy-haired Ruby is thoughtful and funny, but even she struggles a little when her mum takes in a new foster child, such as quiet, distrustful Clara who reminds Ruby of a “housemaid from Downton Abbey”. To Ruby’s mind, Clara is the kind of girl “who clearly doesn’t take many selfies”. Then, thanks to Ruby’s acts of kindness, Clara undergoes a butterfly-beautiful transformation as she discovers the wonders of the world and a newfound love of science and - slowly-slowly - realises who she really is. Meanwhile, however, Ruby realises that she has her own identity issues to work through. Publisher Barrington Stoke is devoted to creating books that break down barriers that prevent children and young adults from developing a love of reading, from practical considerations such as printing on easier-on-the-eye tinted paper, to delivering pitch-perfect content, which is certainly the case with this enriching novella - it’s ultra-readable, ultra-inclusive and ultra-ideal for all fans of character-driven, true-to-life tales.
A super-readable page-turner spiced with absorbing historical detail, and shot-through with the vitality of an unforgettable heroine. Spearheaded by the author’s research into Soviet female WW2 combat pilots, this tells the remarkable story of Nastia. “I was born in a nation of war. I grew up in the shadow of war. And, like everyone else my age, I had been waiting all my life for the “future war”’, she declares with characteristic verve. An exceptional pilot, and the daughter of revolutionaries, Nastia must fight to fly alongside her male peers as her Motherland joins the Second World War. Then, when the fierce air battles begin – conveyed here to fiercely gripping effect – secrets explode and threaten to send her into freefall. Action, adventure, political conflict, personal battles, plus plenty of grit and determination, Firebird is a feast of historical fineness from the Carnegie Medal shortlisted author of Code Name Verity and, since it’s published by Barrington Stoke, it’s also perfectly placed to stoke-up a love of story in reluctant and struggling teen readers.
Best-selling Doctor Proctor is back in a swift moving, smart talking new adventure. This time inventive scientist Doctor Proctor together with his young friends Nilly and Lisa are after a Russian billionaire who has robbed all the gold bars from the Norwegian gold reserve and melted the last one into a football trophy. Can the good Doctor outwit the Russian billionaire and his henchmen? As ever, it’s a roller coaster ride with lots of laughs along the way.
A submarine ingeniously disguised as a floating island, and a state of the art training programme designed to turn five ordinary kids into sporting superstars – Atlantis United is a highly original and intriguing action adventure story. Joe, Kim, Craig, Ajit and Jess enjoy their different sports, but are conscious that they’re certainly not the best in their teams – so why the interest in them by the stranger in the black hat watching their games? Turns out he is a scout but for a really unusual operation – a maverick billionaire business man has created an amazing but top secret programme for junior athletes based on the latest scientific and sports thinking. The sporting detail is fascinating, while tension rises when the kids notice a strange drone spying on them – could they be in danger?
Pretty as a picture book, My First 100 Words makes discovering new languages into a fun game. Each page has a different theme – clothes, toys, things to eat – and is illustrated with photographs of objects relevant to the theme, with the name written underneath in English. Separate cards repeat the images, this time with the names in French and Spanish (one side for each language). The objects themselves are knitted, or made out of felt or paper and are very appealing and memorable. It’s never too early for encounters with other languages and this will make it an enjoyable experience for parent and child.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Set in a frightening future version of London in which the lives of two teenage boys cruelly collide in a divided city, this gripping page-turner has pertinent contemporary resonance, and packs powerful moral and emotional punches. Read it to be thrilled, chilled, and to have your eyes well and truly opened. Teenagers Alan and Lex are on either side of a war policed by drones. Lex lives on The Strip, a bombed-out territory in which the poverty-stricken inhabitants are under constant drone surveillance. “In this city, death seems to perpetually hover nearby, like a needy bully”, Lex remarks, while his dad is part of The Corps resistance movement that’s fighting the bullies, rendering him a top target for the military. On the other side of the divide, fatherless Alan was written off at a young age – “Nobody ever thought I'd amount to anything" - but his talent for gaming has secured him his perfect job as a drone pilot, a role in which he has “absolute power without a single boot on the ground”. But, while he’s proud to protect his country from “terrorists who want to destroy us”, Alan is forced to confront a magnitude of moral dilemmas when he’s tasked with killing a high profile target, who turns out to be Lex’s dad… The dual-narrative device works to great effect as we see both boys wrestling with issues of ethics, family conflict and, in Lex’s case, the overwhelming experience of first love. Ambitious and assured, this keenly plotted thriller also probes deep into the human heart, and comes recommended for fans of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Tolerance and friendship are at the heart of this picturebook which is written and illustrated by newcomer Maisie Paradise Shearing with charm and panache. Anna and Otis are best of friends: Anna is a little girl, a real character with her inky black bob, red shorts and yellow lace up boots; just as distinctive, Otis is a snake, sunshine yellow with bright red markings. Delightfully, despite their very different forms, they seem to mirror one another as they move, a lovely emphasis on their closeness. Otis is worried when Anna decides on a trip into town – he’s noticed that other people find him alarming, but Anna’s determination and his own efforts win him lots of friends. This is great fun to read while the illustrations, original, idiosyncratic and full of vitality, make Anna and Otis unforgettable.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | August 2018 Book of the Month | “All children are afraid of the dark,” says ten-year-old Mafalda sagely, and she knows this more than most, for her world is misting over. At some point in the next six months she will lose her sight to Stargardt Disease. Mafalda tries to get on with life but, as the days pass, the mist’s darkness descends ever faster, leaving her increasingly lonely. The novel’s universal, book-for-all-ages power has echoes of The Little Prince. Indeed, de Saint-Exupéry’s classic is referenced here by the inspiring one-of-a kind Estella, a school caretaker Mafalda befriends, who advises her to find her rose, “the thing that’s essential to you”, just like the Little Prince. Mafalda measures her vision in paces from a very special cherry tree. And, movingly, the book’s five parts are headed with titles that point to the deterioration of her sight, starting with Part One Seventy Metres, the distance from which she can see the cherry tree as the novel begins. Estella delivers further vital advice later in the novel: “To live in fear is not to live at all”, and it’s Estella who helps make a truly magical, heart-rending ending. Readers of all ages will be drawn deep into Mafalda’s poignantly pitch-perfect narrative. Younger readers will identity with, for example, how she knows when her parents are discussing something important but can’t quite grasp the meaning, while adult readers will fill in the blanks Mafalda is left puzzling over. Inspired by the author's own experience of Stargardt Disease, this is a dazzlingly tender and timeless tale of love and courage.
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!
August 2018 Debut of the Month | What if your favourite YouTuber's life was a lie? What if you were the one to expose it? YouTuber LilyLoves has an amazing life: a rockstar boyfriend, a totally Insta-worthy London flat and a collection of beauty products that seems to grow daily (thanks, PO Box). Sixteen-year-old Melissa's life is way less amazing - LilyLoves is the only thing getting her through it. She's Lily's biggest fan and spends hours each night watching her videos and liking her posts. Melissa wants that life for herself - or at least to look like she has it . . . As Melissa starts to grow in confidence - and followers - she discovers a crushing secret about Lily - the ultimate YouTube lie. Does she share Lily's secret and crush her fame? Or will they both continue to live a lie - both online and off? My [Secret] YouTube Life is the addictive debut novel from Charlotte Seager.
This supportive swoosh of fresh air from a former Radio 1 Agony Aunt and all-round brilliant believer in young people provides perfectly-pitched practical guidance on all manner of vitally important areas. It’s a best friend, big sister and clued-up auntie sculpted into one finely-formed body of information, with Aurelia Lange’s fresh and funky colour illustrations making it easy to navigate and a joy to engage with. Combining stats, facts, the author’s personal insights, and wisdom from experts in their fields, this is a soothing balm for worries about everything from stress, anxiety and depression, to eating disorders and addiction. It also offers inspiration for one’s future self, with comprehensive coverage of politics, volunteering, travelling and careers. Like its sister volume, Open Your Heart, which explores family, friends, body image and sexual health, this is a must-have mindfulness manual for teens and young adults.
This seminal exploration of mental health begins with an explosion. Olive is on the edge, unable to cope with the volume of noise and people in the world: “I hate humans. I hate that they’re everywhere. But the human I hate most is me”. After a disturbing episode during her dad’s birthday celebrations, she agrees to attend Camp Reset, “the country’s first residential camp for brain wellness”, where young clients are given therapy and encouraged to identify their core beliefs in a plush country setting. Olive knows what her core belief is - “I’m a bad person” - and so a key to her healing will be to switch that into “I am a good person who tries my best.” While struggling with this, and inspired by the “suicide algorithm” the Camp Reset doctors have devised, Olive is struck by her own idea for a cure. She’s a compelling, creative fireball of a character and, though her condition is complex and her journey often dark, she’s also frequently entertaining. After enlisting the help of introverted maths-lover Lewis, it’s not long before Olive’s idea evolves into a wildly big-scale project. Unflinchingly honest and empathetic, this intense novel demonstrates the primary importance of kindness and compassion, that it’s never a persons fault that they’re unwell, and just how essential self-care is. Ladies and Gents, I give you one of the year’s most important YA novels - an engaging and thought-provoking book with tremendous value. Holly Bourne has done it again.
A sequel to The London Eye Mystery, The Guggenheim Mystery is the story of Ted Sparks (he’s 12 years and 281 days old, with seven friends) and the most unusual theft of a painting. Ted is a boy who sees the world very differently to the rest of his family – his brain works on a different operating system to everyone else’s, and that makes him an excellent detective. He’s very kind, and very thoughtful, and a brilliant hero. A great read.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | September 2018 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: love, trust, truth, and being true to yourself | This engaging and refreshingly candid sequel to the bestselling The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things tackles big issues (body shaming, date rape, parental pressure) with big-hearted verve, sincerity and charm. Vibrant, witty, purple-and-green-haired Virginia attends a prestigious private Manhattan school but despite this privileged background, her life’s not exactly a bowlful of cherries. On good days Virginia considers herself to be curvy. On bad days she’s “plain old fat”. She comes from “a family of fat-shamers” and is constantly undermined by her high-achieving older siblings. Virginia has a boyfriend, though, Froggy. Except she’s no longer into him, which is another source of tension – she is, after all, the girl who wrote: “if you’re a chunky chick and you managed to get a nice boyfriend, don’t ever let him go”, so it’s quite a struggle for Virginia to decide whether she should let him go. Then, while you’re 110% rooting for her to make the right decision, fate intervenes in the form of a chance encounter with cute artist Sebastian. He’s attentive, complimentary and makes her feel pretty. As they become closer (and cuter), complicated connections emerge when Virginia’s big brother Byron is arrested for a serious offence, leaving the lovebirds with a whole lot of conflicts you’ll be desperate for them to resolve. The story is a real edge-of-your-seat page-turner, but Virginia is the true star of this well-plotted piece. At once ambitious and insecure, she zings from the page as a firecracker of relatable, true-to-life contradictions, while Byron’s appalling actions – and their painful repercussions – expose male privilege with thought-provoking poignancy. Highly recommended for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Holly Bourne. ~ Joanne Owen
October 2018 Debut of the Month | 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 | 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.
Scottish islands have provided the background for some great adventures recently, from Geraldine McCaughrean's Carnegie winner Where the World Ends to Julia Green's To the Edge of the World and Kerr Thomson's The Sound of Whales. Barbara Henderson takes readers to just such a remote island and stages a tense and exciting confrontation between humanity - represented by the narrator, Em, her family and others involved in the creation of a new luxury hotel - and nature, represented by the island's furred and feathered inhabitants. There's a very good sense of the wild and scary power of the natural world, and it puts human behaviour in the spotlight too. Em is a strong central character, a good companion for readers throughout her intriguing, often scary adventure.
Elmer the much-loved patchwork elephant is in a particularly playful mood in this story. His young friend Rose is humming a catchy tune, and soon all the animals are singing along. In fact, the tune is so catchy, they just can’t get it out of their heads. Fortunately, Elmer comes up with a solution. Whether Elmer is an old friend, or they are meeting him for the first time, young children will love this typically funny and surprising story. David McKee’s illustrations always dazzle, and his jungle is as vibrant and busy as ever.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | On the surface, this is a story about a girl who discovers she's a witch, in a world where that is a highly dangerous thing to be. But it's contemporary life that really fascinates Melvin Burgess and this is as much a story of growing up and independence as it is a story of dark magic. It also contains a thoroughly disturbing dissection of coercion and control as central character Bea is manipulated into doing things that cause irrevocable harm to herself and others. The book opens with Bea and her family returning home after a day out. Crossing the moors they run into The Hunt, violent supernatural creatures tracking and attacking other witches. Bea is able to stop them, powerfully summoning help but revealing her supernatural ability at the same time. With the awakening of her witch nature, the world becomes a different place, more beautiful but more frightening as she is surrounded by visions that only she can see. Befriended by other witches she is given a terrible choice: safety and freedom with them means she must leave her own human family for ever. Under pressure from her parents she decides to give up her new powers for a 'normal' life, but is snatched away at the last minute by the wild boy she is beginning to love - is it a rescue, or an abduction? It's typical of Burgess that the book raises so many questions about temptation and individual choice, freedom and responsibility; typical too that the consequences of Bea's decisions are shown to be so painful, and permanent. Powerful, uncompromising reading.
Tom McLaughlin creates some of the best, and funniest adventures for young readers and this is another hilarious, cleverly structured story. Nine year old Pete just wanted a quiet day watching the snooker on the telly, so how on earth did he end up committing armed robbery (sort of), impersonating a policeman, and driving a tank across his own lawn, before breaking up a gang of admittedly incompetent criminals? Read the book to see how it all begins with his mum’s parsnip bake… It’s part of the joy of the book that even as the plot gets more and more convoluted, and as yet more accidental disasters heap on Pete and his new friend Sammy, there’s a logic to everything that happens. Irresistible page-turning fun, and McLaughlin’s cartoony illustrations are an added bonus.
In a nutshell: friendship and understanding can change the world Two young people under extraordinary pressure are at the heart of Siobhan Curham’s compassionate, affecting and ultimately uplifting novel. Hafiz is a refugee newly arrived in Britain after two terrifying years on the road. His parents are still in Syria. Stevie’s mother is suffering with depression, spending most of her time asleep and relying on her daughter for everything. Money is tight and Stevie struggles to keep her predicament a secret from school and classmates. Brought together by accident the two become friends, bonding as much over a shared love of strong coffee and arcade claw machines as through their joint loneliness and isolation. Both their lives are changed as a result. Tender and convincing, the story demonstrates that with friendship, unity and humanity there’s hope even in the most extreme circumstances. ~ Andrea Reece
Katherine Webber’s story is set in Palm Springs the desert landscape beloved of her central character Reiko and on-off boyfriend Seth providing a dramatic backdrop to a story that changes moods and directions to make this a rich and rewarding read. To most, Reiko would seem to have it all: she’s clever, beautiful, rich with a loving family, already favourite to be Homecoming Queen. Close friends know however that she’s never recovered from the tragic death of her sister five years earlier; readers know that Reiko sees and talks to the ghost of Mika in her room each night. It’s a chance meeting with Seth, one of the uncool kids, that turns into a friendship then a relationship. Her friends are astonished when they finally go public as a couple, what can Reiko see in Seth? We wonder too, but as the story unfolds perspectives change in really interesting and revealing ways. A thoughtful, intelligent and moving YA novel.
August 2018 Debut of the Month | Sarah Epstein’s well-crafted psychological thriller will keep readers on their toes, and nervously checking over their shoulders too. Aged just 8, Tash witnessed her imaginary friend the sinister Sparrow kidnap a little girl from a fair. Nine years and lots of therapy later, Tash has learned to keep quiet about what happened, convinced along with her parents that what she saw was just the imagination of a little girl desperate for attention. But when circumstances draw her back to the area, back to the fairground, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. Can she believe her eyes? Can we believe her? Dark and twisty, this is hard to put down and good, creepy fun.
From the moment he discovered he’s a sort of hero, with special powers and the ability to move into a magic world, Ned’s adventures have held readers spellbound. The Darkening Path brings the series to a conclusion, and it’s every bit as thrilling as we’ve come to expect. As the world of Hidden begins to fall apart, Ned and his companions including robot mouse Whiskers and huge familiar Gorrn, travel to far off places including the forests of Siberia to rally an army to take on his enemies. Of all people, the Armstrongs deserve a happy ending, but will they get it? Inventive, exciting, page-turning magical adventure, with a fair few laughs as well. We’ll miss Ned and co!
When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone . . . Inspired by the original Hogwart's textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original screenplay marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. A feat of imagination and featuring a cast of remarkable characters and magical creatures, this is epic adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition for any film lover or reader's bookshelf.
Stylish and artfully designed, this book is jam-packed with enough information on the Greek gods and heroes to satisfy even the most inquisitive reader. Forty different characters, from Gaia, Cronus and Zeus to Electra, Achilles and Odysseus, are featured on double page spreads; boxes of text tell their stories with impressive brevity, while extra gobbets of information are conveyed via shorter text boxes or in captions that accompany the stylised, colour illustrations. It’s a book that encourages browsing, while simultaneously making clear the timeline and interconnectedness of the various gods and heroes. This is the latest in an eye-catching and effect series.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | August 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2018 | | A thought-provoking and touching story of the bond between children and nature, from renowned storyteller and award-winning author Gill Lewis. Award-winning Gill Lewis is renowned for her skilful capturing of the healing power of human/ animal friendships and the importance of nature to all – and especially to children who grow up without much chance to explore it. Searching for a secret place where they can practise their skateboarding, Izzy and Asha discover the perfect spot – the site of an abandoned gas works. But they are not the first to find it. The gas works site is also home to a wounded wolf. Knowing that they must keep its existence a secret the girls take care of the wolf and, in doing so, become involved in keeping the patch of wasteland safe from developers. It is a heartwarming story with a deep theme written in a highly readable way. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
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.
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.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | July 2018 Book of the Month | 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 | | 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.
Good news for anyone who likes exciting mystery stories starring children: the Secret Seven are back in new adventures specially written by Pamela Butchart. Older fans of the series (hands up if you had your own Secret Seven inspired club as a kid – I did) will be reassured to know that the essence of the series is unchanged – the gang are as jolly and go-getting as ever, clearly smarter than the adults they encounter, and the (many) descriptions of tea-time feasts are simply delicious. This episode concerns strange goings-on in the grounds of a hotel – why are the new owners digging such a big hole in the garden, could it be something to do with buried treasures? Pamela Butchart understands as well as Enid Blyton how to write page-turning adventure, and just what young readers want in their fictional heroes. Hoorah for the new Secret Seven!
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | This sparky collaborative novel by a glorious gaggle of top YA authors (Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood) centres around six memorable young adults whose paths cross at a TV broadcasting house: “The swot, the fraud, the dutiful daughter, the child star, the fan girl and the asshole”, all strangers who, “for whatever reason...ended up in the same lift at the same time.” Given their wildly different backgrounds, which range from working class Sasha to “asshole” posh boy Hugo, it’s unlikely they’d have met in anything but unusual circumstances. Indeed, their lives become bound together by a life-changing event that happens in the lift and compels them to meet year after year to mark the intense, affecting experience. The narratives are cleverly and seamlessly interwoven, with the same events told from different perspectives: Through recounting each character’s highs and lows, and the complications of their relationships with each other, this novel explores big issues with engaging authenticity - Alzheimer’s, grief, misogyny, shifting sexuality, falling in love, sliding out of love, and true friendship (i.e. the kind that doesn’t judge). Humorous lines are launched from all angles too, a personal favourite being Velvet’s “I look like I’m in bad fancy dress as a greasy-haired teenage version of Theresa May”. As the years pass, all six experience seismic shifts in how they see the world; transformations that start as an “excruciating, unreachable itch” and lead to “the realization that there’s more to life”. Gripping, entertaining and emotionally smart, this has the power to make readers laugh, cry, think and fall in love with YA fiction.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Winner of the CLiPPA 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | These poignant, punch-packing poems explore the varied emotional lives of secondary school pupils facing the giddy transition from being “the biggest to the smallest...in the secondary school jungle” like “gazelles in a field full of lions”. Complex tangles of feelings are laid bare with heart-rending authenticity, from the headiness of he-said-she-said gossip, to the bewildering “who the hell do you sit with?” loneliness that strikes when your best friend’s off school (Thanks a lot, Belinda). Vending Machine is an incredible piece of writing, encapsulating the anguish and anger of betrayal, of having your heart trampled on, and then the bliss of recovery when your heart feels “a little lighter”. Another personal favourite is the sublime Dear Mum, BTEC about a student “drawing different plans” after realising they are ill-suited to exams - plans they hope will make Mum proud. There are jubilant themes too, such as the breathless, time-stopping “WHAM!” of instant attraction, the jangling joy of being at the bottom of a celebratory pile-on after you’ve scored, and the magic of those inspirational, unforgettable teachers who take time to share a book they think you “should try”. A chorus of entertaining, emotionally-charged insights and observations sing and dance through these tender, playful pages, with each short verse alive with empathetic, true-to-life experiences.
It's Martha's birthday and the village has planned a surprise party for her - but grumpy witch Griselda Gritch ruins the surprise! Not to worry - Martha's biggest birthday wish comes true when her mum and dad return from their tropical trip especially for her party. Everyone is delighted (apart from grumpy Griselda) and excited to have fun with Martha's present: the Mysterious Mask of Truth, brought back from her parents' far-flung travels. Fun, that is, until the truth starts causing everyone quite a lot of embarrassment . . .
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Spanish Riding School groom Herr Engel at a remote country stables where they are hiding the precious Lipizzaner stallions the Nazis wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they must get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through enemy territory. Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety, and what will be waiting for them on the other side?
Ro Snow is the girl no-one notices - she doesn't go to parties and she doesn't have friends over. Besides, even if anyone tried to call on her they'd discover that no. 56 Arcadia Avenue isn't her house at all - it's her decoy house. Because her real home, a few doors down, is a tip of rubbish and paper and she can't remember the colour of the carpet it's been so long since she's seen it. Her mum, Bonnie, is a hoarder and Ro lives in terror of social services finding out about the squalor she is forced to live in. But when Noah moves in next door, Ro can't hide the truth from him and she finds herself opening up for the first time in her life. And then there's the new girl at school, the adorable and persistent Tanvi who can see that carefully hidden something-special in Ro too. And it's not long before Ro's carefully constructed castle of loneliness is crumbling down around her, but if she's out in the open, so is her painstakingly guarded secret ...
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | As elegant and energising as a flute of fine champagne, this enchanting novel sees 17-year-old Cornish farmer’s daughter and aspiring writer Lou embrace the dizzy decadence of 1920’s aristocracy, with life-changing results. “You can learn an awful lot from books,” according to Lou, and it’s Lou’s love of books that first brings her into contact with the wealthy Cardew family and their “exotic creature” socialite friends. One night she steals across the causeway to empty Cardew House to savour the delights of the library and unexpectedly encounters charismatic Robert Cardew. Their first ablaze-with-banter meeting leaves Lou “hot and cross” but also piercing with “pleasure and longing”, for it’s given her a tantalising glimpse into another world. Then follows an invite from Robert’s fluttery sister, Cailtin, and a summer of extravagant parties opens up. Robert’s voluptuously glamorous fiancé and her “film-star handsome” brother have quite an impact, but it’s the Cardew siblings who weave their way into Lou’s heart. Exuberantly entertaining, breezily romantic and shimmering with the delicious anticipation of pastures new, this is jubilantly fine fiction in the vein of I Capture the Castle.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | 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.
Anthony Horowitz’s announcement that he was writing a new Alex Rider book was one of the best bits of literary news of the last year. Now the book is here, and Never Say Die sees Alex Rider at his daring best. After the shocking climax to Scorpia Rising Alex is living in San Francisco with his friend Sabina’s family. When he receives a cryptic email implying his guardian Jack Starbright may still be alive Alex is on a plane to Cairo in no time following up the lead. The adventure brings him back up against his enemies the Grimaldis, and Mrs Jones of MI6 reappears too. To describe the action as fast-paced is an understatement but there’s always time for sardonic humour. The fight scenes of course are superb. For adrenaline-filled, addictive adventure, Alex Rider is unbeatable, and it’s great to have him back. There are nine other Alex Rider books, all excellent, and readers should also look at Steve Cole’s Young Bond books.
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. July 2018 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2018 Books in The Storm Keeper Trilogy Series: 1. The Storm Keeper's Island 2. The Lost Tide Warriors 3. The Storm Keepers' Battle (March 2021)
July 2018 Book of the Month | | 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!
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 | | 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.
The resurgence in crime stories for young readers, led so stylishly by Lauren Child (Ruby Redfort), Lauren St John (Kat Wolfe Investigates) and Robin Stevens (Murder Most Unladylike) continues and readers will find their interest piqued and their brain cells given a good workout by this new detective series. Agatha (after Christie) Oddly has a nose for mystery. Just as well – a hit and run in Hyde Park where she lives with her park keeper dad, leads her into some very strange and really rather dangerous goings on, involving an attempt to destroy the city of London and a very secret, secret society. Added treats for readers include Agatha’s quirky best friend Liam and her rivalry with a bunch of snobby girls at her posh school (she’s on a scholarship).
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.
This colourful, attractive information book, neatly packaged in a waterproof bag, will help you get the most out of a trip to the seaside, no matter where you are going or for how long. With pages of facts on all the life to be found between the sea and the land, it’s both informative and inspiring. Readers will learn about everything from sand, pebbles, barnacles and seaweed to crabs, coral and seals. There are suggestions for ways to create are out of what you find, and even a recipe for seaweed. It brings the seashore alive and encourages children not just to study the seashore but to think about taking care of it too.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | An eye-catching tattoo of a tiger links four people in Bernard Ashley’s new book. Against her parents’ wishes, Sofia has a tiger head tattoo; screwing her courage to the sticking point while the young tattooist inks it on her leg, she is delighted with the result and what it says about her and her plans for her life. When her actor father sees it, he uses the tattoo as inspiration for a new role, which gives the image more exposure. A thuggish boxer has the same tattoo and is furious that the image is now being shared on others. The drama that follows is both crime thriller and romance, but also a meditation on art, what it stands for, how it connects us, and whether anyone can claim ownership. Exciting and thoughtful contemporary drama from a literary old master. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 12+
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 Debut of the Month | This ambitiously epic fantasy debut sees a captive princess rise from the ashes of her traumatic childhood to combat a cruel Kaiser. At the tender age of six Theodosia witnessed the brutal murder of her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury. Now, ten years on, and backed deeper into a no-hope situation by the cruel Kaiser who’s forced her to live in a degraded state as the Ash Princess, Theodosia is driven to concoct a scheme to exact her revenge. With the assistance of a band of magical rebels she will seduce the Kaiser’s son and ruin him from within in order to reclaim the throne. While this motif is far from new, the writing is bold and fresh, and this promising debut sparkles with Theodosia’s drive and desire. But, while she’s a straight-talking, sharp-thinking young woman, her lively first-person narrative also reveals hidden fears, doubts and personal conflicts which, alongside the gory grimness of the political climate (slavery, brutal colonisation) and a backdrop of elemental gods, makes for a riveting reading experience that comes recommended for fans of Sarah J Maas and Victoria Aveyard.
Everyone loves a wedding, right? Especially when you’re Charlie and your beloved big sister is about to get hitched with all your siblings reunited for the big occasion. Focusing on this event is Charlie’s only source of stability right now, what with her parents selling the family home, her Mom’s long-running family-inspired comic strip ending after 25 years, and her having to make huge decisions about her future. It’s the end of an era every which way you look at it, so this weekend “had to be perfect. I would make sure of it,’ Charlie resolves. But, with so much outside her control, Charlie’s dream of a perfect wedding weekend is threatened by a succession of obstacles, errors and unexpected encounters, including an intense reunion with her long-time crush (cue a whole lot of complicated cuteness and deep and meaningful realisations). Alongside the humour, the daunting giddiness of being of the verge of everything changing is brilliantly evoked. Charlie has pushed aside making college decisions for months and instead been utterly preoccupied with the wedding. The million-dollar question is, as her best friend posits, “What happens when this weekend is over?” It’s by no means easy, but since she’s a thoughtful, resourceful young woman, “the one who came to help, who tried to make things work”, the one her siblings called when “they were in trouble”, Charlie realises that while the tides of change are strong, she’s strong enough to ride them out. She and her family will always be there for one another, and you never know what wonders await further out at sea. I adored the author’s The Unexpected Everything and this confirms her status as a mighty fine creator of exuberantly entertaining coming-of-age dramas with authentic emotional depth.
Surely one for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, this smart coming-of-age story reels with romance, life lessons and big questions about finding your way. Seventeen-year-olds Reagan and Dee are “friends for infinity”, but they’re also opposites: “In a fairytale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup step cousin”, Reagan remarks with characteristic wryness. While Reagan has a history of bad girl behaviour (underage drinking, court appearances and picking bad boys), Dee is a country music superstar who “acts either thirty years old, like a composed professional” or, when she’s with Reagan, “like a twelve year old”. But this summer Reagan plans to get her life back on track as she joins Dee’s first major headline tour. With both girls trying to get over broken relationships, this summer road-trip is a fresh start for them both, but their plans are immediately tainted when a magazine runs a salacious story about Dee. Enter Matt Finch, Dee’s wholesome label-mate. He’s invited to join her tour as a ploy to shift press attention from the alleged “scandal” to speculation that there might be something between him and Dee. The truth is, it’s Reagan who falls for Matt, with his understated handsomeness and a straight-talking vibe she totally relates to. As their romance ignites with electrifying passion, there’s a rocky road ahead for all three as further salacious allegations are made and various mounting pressures threaten friendships and burgeoning romance. The music tour set-up makes this an entertaining escapist page-turner, with the relatable real-life conundrums and dramas providing thought-provoking profundity – the essential ingredients of a rollicking summer read.
Mirror Magic is perfect for children who like their stories full of magic and excitement. Orphans Ava and her big brother Matthew move to the town of Wyse, the last place in Britain with a working connection to the magical fairy Underworld. Access between the two worlds is through mirrors but according to the autocratic Lord Skinner the magic is fading away and fewer and fewer mirrors are working. Ava suspects Lord Skinner is not be trusted and her suspicions are confirmed when she meets a fairy boy, Howell. What follows is a story of conspiracy, intrigue and adventure, some genuinely creepy adversaries balanced by magical hats, a somewhat caustic talking book and entertaining transformations. Clever and lots of fun it comes with a reminder too that it is better to be shaped by our kindness than our fears. Readers who enjoy this book should also read Howl’s Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci series by the incomparable Diana Wynne Jones.
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Shortlisted for the Children's Book Awards 2019, Books for Younger Children Category | The primary colours have got everything sorted out in the city so they live in separate areas and never mix. But, when a Blue and a Yellow fall in love and marry, baby Green is soon born and everyone realises that mixing together makes everyone much happier. A love story in a paint box with an important message for all young readers.
Any young person faced with family break-up will understand the frustration that Ned, hero of Emma Fischel’s new book feels. They’ll sympathise too with the hurt he experiences when his best and pretty well only friend chooses to spend time with others. But no-one – at least as far as we know – has ever developed Ned’s magical ability to ‘wallboggle’. Driven into a fury by the walls that divide his home into two houses (one for Mum, one for Dad), Ned literally barges through them, passing through the bricks and mortar as though they’re not there. Initially his new ability is just another way to vent his anger, but eventually he turns it into something positive. It’s an original story, funny and exciting too, and Ned is a complex, interesting character. The moral choices presented by his ‘wallboggling’ are subtly explored and leave readers with much to think about.
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.”
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2018 Award-winning illustrator Helen Cooper’s debut novel is a richly imagined and cleverly crafted story perfectly matched by her own illustrations. ‘Come now or come never!’ reads the mysterious invitation that arrives with the milk one day. Despite his mother’s protest, Ben knows he must take up the challenge. Working with the diverse inhabitants of the museum, he finds himself caught up in a desperate struggle to save the whole place from the wicked developers. With an underlying plot about the mysterious disappearance of his father this is both a thoughtful and an exciting novel that will fire the imagination of all readers who, like Ben, have ever dared to believe that the animals in a museum might come alive. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2018: Mariella, Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer Opposites by Roald Dahl 1, 2, 3 by Roald Dahl The Day War Came by Nicola Davies The Hippo at the End of the Hall by Helen Cooper The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman
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.
Nat Luurtsema made a splash with her first story about Lou Brown in Girl Out of Water, which saw her training a team of the school’s hottest boys in synchronised swimming. Now Lou is back in a new adventure which is just as slick and funny as the original and filled with sharp observations of teen and family life. Despite a variety of problems – both parents are now unemployed, her best friend Hannah has been co-opted into the prom committee by the class mean girls, and even lovely boyfriend Gabe is spending more time with his (all female) debating teammates than with her – Lou stays cheerful, and the worse things get for her, the funnier they are for readers. Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, this is another perfect summer read. Definitely one to recommend to fans of Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series.
Children all over the world are very different, but they also have much in common. From breakfasts to birthdays, cakes to clothes, and hiccups to hellos, there are so many ways to say and do things - but everyone shares a love of family, friends, food and fun.
In a nutshell: gripping, sometimes heart-breaking story of a dog and his boy Guardian award-winner Andy Mulligan brings his own sensibility to a much-loved model - boy and dog form special relationship - adding a particular humour, seriousness and depth. It’s love at first sight for Tom and Spider, but a series of accidents results in Spider running away from home. The animals he meets are almost universally cruel, their animal natures leading them to torment Spider and other animals too; a vixen offers to help him home but loses her life in the process. Things get bleaker still, until Spider finally fights his way back to Tom. A thrilling climax allows the two of them, both bullied, to emerge as heroes. Original, thought-provoking and with a dark humour, this is an ultimately uplifting read, and very memorable. Andrea Reece
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.
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.
July 2018 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 | 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.
Winner of the Awesome Book Award 2020 | June 2018 Debut of the Month | Boy Underwater is one of those rare books that manages to be both very funny and heartbreakingly sad. Being pulled to safety from the bottom of Lewisham Pool by classmate Veronique (losing his trunks in the process) is a terrible experience for Cymbeline Igloo, as it would be for any 9 year old, but it leads his mum to have a breakdown. Cym has never understood her determination to keep him away from water, but now it’s only by uncovering the family secrets that he can give her the help she needs. Cymbeline carries the story brilliantly, confiding in readers all his confusion (the adult world really is incomprehensible), his concerns and his hopes, so that we live it as he does. What he finds out is horribly sad, but leads to a new beginning, and a kind of healing. This beautifully told story is one to recommend to fans of Susin Nielsen, Ross Welford and Christopher Edge.
Pounding hot on the clawed heels of its primeval predecessor, this second installment of the rip-roaring The Extinction Trials sequence sees Lincoln and Stormchaser face another deadly mission to save humankind from destruction at the hands of three killer species. Since they managed to survive the first grueling trial on Piloria, who better to return to test out a new virus that could allow humans to resettle there? The action is every bit as satisfyingly high-stakes as book one, with the introduction of new characters and further family revelations providing extra intrigue. Oh, and there are NEW DINOSAURS too! What a killer concept this series is, and executed with all the in-your-face action and crash, bang wallop “what if?” dilemmas fans of fast-paced, fiercely-written fiction could wish for.
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.
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
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.
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.
Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone--the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
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.
June 2018 Debut of the Month | This cool concept, genre-subverting page-turner sees a group of affluent teenagers enmesh themselves in the life and art of a hit new YA writer with shocking consequences, as their lives become her art.Mira is obsessed with Fatima Ro’s novel and jumps at the chance to meet the author in real life. Both she and her privileged peer group are totally smitten by her style and her ‘theory of human connection’ so they conspire to get closer to her. After a couple of contrived not-so-chance encounters (like their heroine, the friends are no strangers to the art of manipulation), Fatima announces, “I want you to be my people”, which sends them reeling with joy, but becoming “her people” has grave consequences…As we discover through the retrospectively-told narratives, stricken by writer’s block, Fatima turns to the lives of her new companions as a source of material. Looking back over the past months, Penny is adamant that she and her friends were cruelly used by Fatima. “She set us all up like pawns for a fall”, Penny accuses. “She wasn’t talented enough to think of her own story.” Penny’s view is given weight when she reveals the jaw-dropping source of Fatima’s famed theory of human connection. But, as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story and, in this case, Mira’s story sees her defend her heroine to the end. Razor-sharp on the cult of celebrity, this cuttingly compelling novel is also thought-provoking on manipulation, artistic responsibility and forgiveness. The smart, unconventional narrative devices and structure (multiple points of view, novel excerpts, interview snippets) make for an addictive read, and the twists uncoil with stabs of deadly venom.
As the issue of plastic pollution on land and in the oceans becomes ever more urgent, children need to understand what is going on, why and what steps they can do to change things. This book explains in clear text and abundant photographs what plastic is, how it is used, and why it’s a problem for the world. In addition to presenting the facts, it challenges young people to think about what they can do to help as well as including the latest information on plastic replacements – packaging made from seaweed for example. A useful, effective and stimulating information book.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2019 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Of all the books about the campaign for women’s suffrage in this the centenary year of some women being given the vote, David Roberts’s is the most beautiful to look at. In full page illustrations, vignettes and individual portraits, he brings the movement alive, portraying vividly the women and men involved, as well as the drama, frustration and endurance, violence and cruelty that were all part of the struggle. And though he’s best known for his illustrations, the text is as every bit as powerful as the pictures, meticulously and graphically detailing the words and the deeds that finally brought about change, and the roles of the many different people who played a part. The story he tells is one of the most inspiring of our times, still relevant today, and this book is a brilliant way to discover it.
From the phenomenal number-one bestseller David Walliams comes another collection of more hilariously horrible children! Illustrated in glorious and gruesome colour by artist genius, Tony Ross, these stories will appal and delight young readers.Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your bookshelf, 10 more horrendously hilarious stories about the absolute worst children ever! From ten-year old Hank and his endless pranks on his poor, long-suffering family, to Tandy and her titanic tantrums this brand new collection is the perfect companion to World’s Worst Children books 1 and 2 and an ideal gift for the worst children in your life! This compendium of catastrophically horrid boys and girls is brought to you by the phenomenal number-one bestseller David Walliams, and every story is illustrated in glorious and gruesome colour by the artistic genius Tony Ross. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of David Walliams’ first novel, The Boy in the Dress.
January 2019 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Peoples Book Prize 2019 | All the best adventures start with a map and there’s a corker in Clive Mantle’s new thriller. Freddie’s Uncle Patrick gives him a huge and beautiful antique map of the world as a birthday present, little suspecting – or does he? – that it will magically transport Freddie across the continents and through time, to the Himalayas. He shares the adventures that befall him there with his best friend Connor, who has his own challenges at home with a gang of bullies. The two plotlines connect and this is thoroughly satisfying edge-of-the-seat boys-own stuff. Readers who enjoy this stories should also look out for Josh Lacey’s Island of Thieves, or Tamsin Cooke’s Stunt Double series.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | 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.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | This new series has everything that marks out the best, most satisfying and enjoyable children’s books. For a start there’s a smart but impulsive, ready-for-anything central character in Kat Wolfe, who quickly finds an equally enterprising new best friend, Harper Lamb. Then there’s a procession of the best pets/animal helpers ever, from half-feral Savannah cat Tiny to flighty racehorse Charmed Outlaw, to movie-line quoting parrot Bailey. Put them into an adventure involving genuinely threatening double-crossing secret agents, and incompetent would-be assassins, all set in a beautiful and perfectly described Dorset coastal village, mix in warm family relationships, and you have one of the best new adventure stories of the year. Lauren St John brings all the elements together with seemingly effortless ease and there can’t be a young reader in the country who won’t lap this up. June 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: animals, adventure and an irresistible cast of characters Books in The Wolfe and Lamb Series: 1. Kat Wolfe Investigates 2. Kat Wolfe Takes the Case 3. Kat Wolfe on Thin Ice (January 2021)
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.
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.
This book of quizzes, wordsearches, puzzles and more will really test your knowledge of football and the top teams and players. There’s something fun to do on every page, from answering questions, to working out the identity of mystery players from a set of clues, to picking the odd one out. There’s also the chance to put together your own dream team, and even to design your own strip. It will be great fun to share with friends and family, or just to read to challenge yourself. Just the thing for long journeys or to pass the time while you’re waiting for the world cup to start. ~ Andrea Reece
Kellen, Reichis and Ferius are on their way to Gitabria, a city where amazing inventions are dreamed up and sold across the land of the Seven Sands. But when the three of them stumble across a tiny mechanical bird, magically brought to life, they quickly realise all is not as it appears. Meanwhile two strange Argosi appear, carrying secrets from Ferius' past, together with an unlikely Jan'Tep ally. And as time ticks on, all the cards in Ferius' deck point to the emerging tides of war . . . Lovereading Comment to follow.
May 2018 Book of the Month How To Bee is unlike any story I have ever read. The narrative voice is heartfelt and the author uses a mild form of dialect to bring both her characters and setting to life. Seen through the eyes of eight year old Peony, we see great hardship and brutality but also friendship, courage and determination. This is at times a harsh and truthful read, tackling difficult issues of environment, poverty and abuse, unafraid to hide the cruelty and yet finding within the beauty of nature, family and what really matters. It's a story about standing true to your dreams, and that with hard work, love and kindness we can help those dreams come true. It is also a reminder of how precious our natural world is and how we must do all we can to protect it for both us and future generations. Peony is a pest who dreams of becoming a Bee. It's a simple life centred on the trees and family. In a world where pesticides have destroyed the bee population it now falls to children like Peony to save the harvest from pests and other dangers that may destroy their precious produce. The best workers who are light and quick become hand-pollinators. Armed with feather wands they climb from tree to tree pollinating the flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit. Peony lives on the farm with her sister Magnolia and Gramps. Her Ma lives and works in the city, coming home every now and then with cash and fresh bruises. At eight years old Peony can't understand why she doesn't stay, they live a simple life but they have everything they need. But Ma thinks Peony would be better off working in the city for cash so they can save and build a better future. Strong willed and courageous, Peony is determined to remain in the place she loves and earn her stripes to work as a Bee on the farm. How To Bee shows that even the smallest person can make a big difference in a challenging world. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
Brings the past brilliantly to life and introduces inspirational women to today's girls. Historically strong, this is a dramatic story with a real sense of atmosphere which in turn sheds an impressively wide light on the social and economic picture of its time. Girls for the Vote was originally published as Polly's March.
This sparkling debut weaves the captivating folklore of Baba Yaga with the thrills of a classic venturing-out-into-the-world quest, replete with primal conflicts, tantalising twists and an unforgettable protagonist that readers will truly root for. Twelve-year-old Marinka yearns to live in a “normal house” and to have a “normal family”, but instead her house has chicken legs, and her grandmother is a Yaga, a Guardian of The Gate between this world and the next. Worse still, in Marinka’s eyes, is that it’s her destiny to become a Yaga herself, to take on the duty of giving the dead “one last wonderful evening” before they “return to the stars”. Baba Yaga has long warned Marinka of the dangers of venturing too far in the world of the living, but her desire “to have friendships that last more than one night” is so strong that she’s prepared to risk everything. Teetering on the cusp of childhood and adulthood, Marinka’s frustrations and determination to find her own way in the world will truly strike a chord with the intended readership. This age-old conflict is delivered with heart and skillfully interwoven with the glorious trimmings of the original folklore. Add to this the twists, the unveiling of truths and the critical choices Marinka must make and you have a heartily satisfying novel that’s ideal for fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Older readers might also enjoy Circus of the Unseen, which offers an alternate re-working of Baba Yaga’s infinitely enthralling Slavic folklore. Radiant with wonder and wisdom, this is an exceptional debut. Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | May 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year
May 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: old magic in the real world of today A game of Truth or Dare in the humdrum setting of a school trip coach journey is the starting point for Sally Christie’s highly original story. Matt isn’t a quick thinker, so when he’s asked to tell his new school mates something true and unusual, he reveals that he’s seen a fairy. No-one believes him except for Jazzy - perhaps playing Ariel in a production of The Tempest has coloured her view of the world. Together they keep watch in the local woods for its mysterious inhabitants, to the confusion and envy of Jazzy’s former best friend Tash. Next to the strange, magical fairy world glimpsed in the woods, our own seems both more vivid and shabbier, but this beautifully-written, unforgettable story ends with a real sense of hope and growth. ~ Andrea Reece
This first timelessly terrifying tale in a new series from the creator of The Spook’s Apprentice confirms the author’s status as a veritable master of crafting elementally powerful worlds from fascinating pockets of English folklore. Crafty is a Fey. As such he can hear the whisperings of his dead brothers, and he’s immune to the powers of the Shole, a horrifying mist that’s enveloping the Lancashire region. It was the Shole that claimed his non-Fey mother, while his brothers died working for the Chief Mancer, which is what Crafty does now too. After a miserable period shut-up in a cellar with only the occasional companionship of a deceased Bog Queen warrior to brighten his days, he’s passed the test to work as a gate grub, the lowliest of those employed by the Castle Corpus, and a highly dangerous role to boot. Alongside the creeping unfolding of an un-put-down-able story, I adored Crafty’s boundless candor and curiosity, and his friendship with fellow gate grubs Donna and Lucky suffuses his bleak situation with welcome warmth. But, ultimately, with his court courier father missing in action, Crafty is pretty much alone in an increasingly perilous situation… This exquisitely compelling tale tingles with as much raw, pure storytelling prowess and intrigue as it does with the slither and menace of multiple monstrous beasts, and I cannot wait for the second instalment.
All her life Cass has dreamt of joining the circus to become an acrobat and travel the islands on the Circus Boat. Once a year the boat visits her home, the Great City of Minaris, and offers auditions to hopeful trapeze artists and acrobats, before sailing off again for another year. This year Cass is determined it’s her time and so she prepares for the most important performance of her life. Unfortunately the opportunity is missed and so she hatches a new plan and soon finds herself on a ship bound to the mysterious Island of Women. Unknowingly Cass is sailing towards an adventure that will lead her through dangerous waters where pirates hold a reign of terror and you don’t know who you can trust. This is a wonderful story full of acrobatics, sword fights and even a little magic, as Cass must escape the clutches of thieves and pirates. Empowered by the friends she holds dear, a good dose of courage and the passion to follow her dreams, Cass embarks on a gripping adventure that will lead her to the group of women who are the mysterious, Company of Eight. Thoroughly gripping and enjoyable and hopefully the start of many a tale starring the adventurous, brave and lovable Cass. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
May 2018 Debut of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | 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.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2019 | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2017 | May 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | 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.
***Recommended for 16+ due to content. Book of the Month for May 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 |In a Nutshell: love, truth and the power of release | A gripping, soulful novel about a life-changing day, which will surely change the lives of those who read it. "Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?" remarks 17 year-old Adam as a single day unfurls wave after wave of shattering disruption: first a revelation from his brother, next an ultimatum from his foul boss, then a destabilising announcement from his beloved best friend. And alongside Adam's unraveling, there’s the mesmerising narrative of the ghost of a murdered girl who’s risen from a lake in search of release. Partly modeled on two of the author’s most admired books (Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever), with this remarkable novel Ness once again demonstrates his profound understanding of the complexities of being a young adult, and of the human condition more generally. Adam’s story is pinpricked with truly nerve-touching moments, perhaps most poignantly between him and the overbearing father he fears coming-out to. At one point his dad reveals that he wishes Adam could be honest with him, and then Adam begins to let go. While revealing truths can be excruciatingly painful, doing so might also bring refreshing, life-affirming release. Heartbreaking, intense and acutely honest, this novel casts a subtle spell of hope. ~ Joanne Owen
Jamie Grimm is back, and if you don't know why that's cause for celebration then it's time to wise up. Jamie is the star of the best-selling Middle School series by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Slick, sharp and effortlessly readable the books describe Jamie's exploits as America's funniest stand-up kid comic - or sit-down comic as Jamie would insist (he uses a wheelchair following a car accident). In this episode, Jamie is off on an international tour to compete for the title of the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic: a dream come true, or the stuff of his nightmares as Jamie worries he's only ever got the sympathy vote? There are laughs galore - Jamie really is very funny, and watch out for Peter Kay's guest appearance - but underneath it all there's lots too about the importance of friends and family, and why we need laughter to bring the world together. Give it up for Jamie Grimm everyone!
In a nutshell: comic capers deliver sensitive story of grief and recovery Arnold is unlike anyone Leon has ever met before. He’s honest to the point of rudeness, takes everything said completely literally, yet still has a way of identifying what’s really important to people. The two become friends and – unknown to his family – Leon moves Arnold in while his foster parents are away. It doesn’t take long for Arnold to realise that the family, grieving the death of Leon’s twin Lenny, desperately need to start talking again. Amongst madcap adventures, including an inadvertent robbery attempt on a bank, comes real understanding and a sense of healing. Rob Stevens manages to tell a story of heartbreak with humour and sensitivity and readers will be left feeling genuinely uplifted for knowing Leon and Arnold. ~ Andrea Reece
Popular children’s characters the Twirlywoos make learning to recognise and name colours fun and enjoyable. This sturdy board book, just the right size for little hands, shows them having an exciting if typically messy time with paint. It’s an eye-catching, giggle-inducing and memorable way to introduce colours to children who will enjoy learning alongside these familiar, jolly little creatures. ~ Andrea Reece
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | Winner of the 2018 Blue Peter Awards - Best Story | 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.
Sparkling with the wit and wonder of a children’s classic, this exuberant quest-driven debut is a treat for readers of ten and over. Wonderling Arthur is a quiet kind of soul, but desperate to find his place in the world, which isn’t easy when you live in Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. The part-human, part-animal ‘groundlings’ in her charge are denied the usual joys of childhood, and must toil, toil, toil. But when Arthur befriends bird groundling, Trinket, the new companions find a way to escape, though Arthur must summon all his courage to do so. The language dances and sings as Arthur and Trinket set off on their adventure beyond the cruel confines of the Home. Their story is a chorus of charm and wonderment, of friendship and hope, and comes highly recommended as a tale to share aloud as autumn draws in. Special mention must be made of the book’s physical gloriousness. It’s a satisfyingly weighty tome, with evocatively intricate illustrations by the author. This is truly a book to treasure, and will be adored by readers who love the middle grade magic of the likes of Cornelia Funke and Michael Ende.
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.
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.
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.
“When your whole family is obsessed with Love and Romance it sets some pretty high expectations, believe me”, explains 16-year-old Tilly, the witty narrator of this bright and breezy book. Tilly’s on tenterhooks as her grandmother’s highly anticipated romance novel is published. Nothing unusual there - aspiring writer Tilly has long been involved with Gran’s work, from filing, typing and researching, to suggesting improvements. But this book is different. It almost wasn’t completed, due to Gran being hospitalised while writing it, which meant Tilly took on the tasks of copy-editing, proof-reading and (wait for it...) secretly rewriting the ending to Gran’s successful series. From her myriad “Meet cute” date moments, to her ritual of choosing a hat before writing a new book, Gran’s quirks are a joy, and the portrayal of her illness is incredibly touching. Tilly’s massively relieved when Gran is delighted with her ending, so much so that she asks Tilly to write her next novel. Tilly accepts the challenge, but how can she follow the “write what you know” rule when she’s never been in love? What’s more, after boldly resolving to fall in love for real, she discovers that real-life romance can’t be plotted. Rather, it brings twists and turns that are way beyond the author’s control. Delightful on the everyday dramas of family life, first love and fiction’s edifying allures, this is perfect for aspiring writers and fans of funny contemporary YA.
Izzy feels as if colour is leaching from her world, and literally. Plagued by nightmares of a shadowy, threatening figure, when she wakes in the morning colours appear to have been stripped out of the mural her mother painted for her. With her mother in a coma following an accident, Izzy’s world is already changed utterly, but extra pressure is added by her former best friend’s thoughtless, casual cruelty. Meeting Toby, whose own life was changed after a terrible accident, and the discovery of a young cygnet that needs their help, gradually restores Izzy’s understanding of her world. A touching novel of hope, friendship and resilience written with quiet assurance and a real sense of loss and recovery.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | This explosively unique page-turner sees a seventeen-year-old maths genius with anxiety disorder become embroiled in a treacherous world of espionage following an assassination attempt on his scientist mum. Maths prodigy Pete is afraid of pretty much everything. He suffers from severe panic attacks and, along with the support of his older (by eight minutes) twin sister Bel and fellow maths fanatic friend Ingrid, he uses logic to try to keep himself harnessed. In Pete’s words, “maths governs everything in the world.... I lost myself in the numbers trying to find the mathematics of me”. Pete’s world whirls off in unimaginably unexpected directions when his mum is stabbed at an awards ceremony and a hitherto hidden world unfolds. As Pete and Ingrid deploy what they’re best at to figure out what the hell is going on, the author throws out fresh revelations - just when you think you’ve worked out part of the puzzle, another twist lurches you off-course. Who to trust? What to believe? This incredibly smart thriller defies comparison.
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.
Everyone at Barry's school has gone football crazy, but Barry gets thrown out of the team (the Mogden Maniacs) for being completeerly rubbish. Then it turns out that his best friend Bunky is a super striker - so Barry becomes his manager. The cup final match is approaching and Bunky's getting carried away with his football fame - can Barry keep his head in the game? Join everyone's favourite Loser on his tenth hilarious adventure! Barry Loser: I am not a loser was selected as a Tom Fletcher Book Club 2017 title. Future Ratboy and the Invasion of the Nom Noms is shortlisted for the Lollies Award 2017.
A group of undocumented children with letters for names, are stuck living in a refugee camp, with stories to tell but no papers to prove them. As they try to forge a new family amongst themselves, they also long to keep memories of their old identities alive. Will they be heard and believed? And what will happen to them if they aren't? An astonishing piece of writing that will enchant and intrigue children; perfectly pitched at a 9+ readership.
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | “The day is long, the world is wide, you’re young and free,” Davie’s mam announces at the start of a sweltering day. But Davie doesn’t feel that way. He recently lost his dad and “he hates this dead-end place, where nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change. Sometimes he just wants to walk out of it and keep on walking and leave it all behind”. Then this morning, as Davie walks through his hometown, David discovers that something has happened - a local lad has been killed, and Davie thinks he knows who’s responsible. Amidst the speculation of his Tyneside neighbours, Davie embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts, encountering a cast of wisdom-imparting folk along the way. There’s wooden-legged Wilf who shares advice and fruit gums; the openhearted priest who makes a confession; the girls creating a “world of wonders” garden. While walking, Davie feels the flutter and ache of grief as “bleak, black memories” surface but, as a friend of his father says, “sometimes a memory or a dream is a fine place to be”. “What is lost might be discovered again, but in a different form”, counsels another character. And as he continues on his way, watching out for the murder suspect, Davie seems to find his father in another form. Wise and soulfully unexpected, this is truly a book for all ages, by an author who exudes the uncanny elegance of a master conjurer.
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.
It’s not easy being immortal in Rick Riordan’s Greek-myth inspired sagas, and Apollo has every right to feel fed up in this one. As punishment for misdemeanours, he’s been sent to Earth by Zeus to live as a mortal teenager. Not only has he various heroic quests to fulfil, none of them easy, he has all the indignities of adolescence to cope with too; no wonder the book opens with his exclamation, ‘Gods, I hate my life!’. Cruising into Indiana aboard their flying metal dragon, he and his divine friends Leo and Calypso immediately run into trouble in the form of non-human adversaries, and from then on the action is fast, furious and often very funny. Once again, Riordan mixes adventure and mythology, delivering it all via his sharp, sassy teen characters. It makes for irresistible reading, and Riordan really is ‘storyteller of the gods’. Readers who haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, which are referenced throughout this series, really should. More more larger than life adventure, Derek Landy’s Demon Road series is more gruesome, but just as addictive and entertaining.
There are dark dangers and dilemmas aplenty in this glamorous, gripping sequel to Lady Midnight, second in The Dark Artifices trilogy. Part-angel, part-human Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs may have accomplished her mission to avenge her parents’ death, but a new dark shadow now looms over her Los Angeles hometown. As a Shadowhunter, she’s bound to her parabatai soulmate, Julian Blackthorn. They must fight together, even die together, but to fall in love – as they do – could prove fatal. Yet Emma cannot flee Julian to escape this conflict. They need each other, they need the Black Volume of the Dead, and only a Blackthorn can find it. With the eponymous Lord of Shadows set on annihilating those with Blackthorn blood, the stakes could not be higher as Emma and co. voyage into the Courts of Faerie to find the powerful spell book. With her fiercely indomitable spirit and razor-sharp tongue, Emma is a brilliantly badass heroine, and the tangled dynamics of her relationships with her co-characters are intoxicatingly compelling. Simmering with tension, and heady with high-stakes action, sequels don’t come more satisfying than this. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Dark Artifices.
Glorious illustrations tell this story that is both nicely scary and neatly resolved. Everyone knows that alligators are scary! Right? Alan comes from a long line of scary alligators and, with his HUGE white and sharply-pointed teeth he has a happy time scaring all the other creatures in the pond. Alan takes great care of his teeth; he brushes them for at least ten minutes a day so that they look super-sharp and frightening. But, what the other creatures don’t know is that Alan has a very big secret…What will Alan do when everyone finds out?
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.
A beautiful new edition of the first volume in the Surya Trilogy by Whitbread award-winning author Jamila Gavin. India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt-out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival. Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture...
The bestselling fully-illustrated Tom Gates series is back with a new book! This book is VERY important because it contains BISCUITS, BANDS and all my (doodled) plans to make DogZombies the BEST band in the world. MY VERY BIG PLAN: 1. Write more songs about VERY important things like... ... biscuits 2. Make sure there's a good supply of SNACKS for our band practice 3. Avoid Delia at ALL COSTS, she thinks I've been SNOOPING in her room. (I have.) 4. DOODLE as much as possible, especially if Marcus is watching
Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated--scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | | 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!
Prize winning Skulduggery Pleasant is back for a third thrilling adventure. Along with his side-kick Stephanie, Skulduggery, the skeleton detective, must stand up to the Faceless Ones in a typically dramatic, dangerous and funny new adventure. The world of Skulduggery is a feast of invention.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
June 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Dinosaurs are endlessly fascinating for children and this new book, one of a series, uses the latest research and scientific discoveries to bring young readers right up to date on the tyrant lizard king. For example, it explains how the study of ‘muscle scars’ on T.rex bones dramatically changed our understanding of how the animal stood and moved; it includes photos of fossilised scaly skin from an adult T.rex discovered only in 2017, and examines the evidence for T.rex having feathers or bristles too; and it shows how comparing scans of T.rex skulls and brain cases with those of modern animals tell us lots about its sense of smell (good) and vision (possibly very good). A Science in Action section explains the different processes involved in excavations. Full colour throughout and with a useful glossary, this will inspire young palaeontologists. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Publisher Ruth Owen: I love science and I love dinosaurs – so it was a fantastic opportunity to work with author and palaeontologist, Dougal Dixon, to create and publish our new series. It was also fascinating to work with the artists, from around the world, who created the life-like 3D artworks of the animals featured in the series. Every year new fossil discoveries are made, or advancements in technology allow us to gather more evidence from bones that were dug from the ground decades ago. This means the books are just jam-packed with the latest information on these incredible animals. From seeing T. rex skin for the first time, to an investigation that recreated T. rex’s sinister, blood-curdling sounds, I was learning new things every day. I didn’t want the project to end and I hope that readers have as much fun reading the books as we did making them! The Prehistoric Beast Uncovered series includes; Tyrannosaurus Rex - King of the Dinosaurs Megaladon - The Largest Shark That Ever Lived Triceratops - The Dinosaur Built to Do Battle Titanosaur - The Giant Earth Shaking Dinosaur
Everyone loves a shark, and they don’t come bigger (18 metres) than Megalodon. This new book, part of the Prehistoric Beasts Uncovered series, doesn’t just give the known facts about Megalodon, awesome as they are, it also explains how we know what we do, and how scientists deduce information. Shark vertebrae for example have growth rings like those that form in tree trunks, and studying fossilised Megalodon vertebrae has revealed that the animals could live to at least 40 years old. A special Science in Action section shows how state of the art technology is helping answer questions such as how hard could Megalodon bite, and when did Megalodon go extinct. Even the most ardent young palaeontologist will learn something new from this book, and its emphasis on the latest discoveries and scientists’ work is fascinating. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Publisher Ruth Owen: I love science and I love dinosaurs – so it was a fantastic opportunity to work with author and palaeontologist, Dougal Dixon, to create and publish our new series. It was also fascinating to work with the artists, from around the world, who created the life-like 3D artworks of the animals featured in the series. Every year new fossil discoveries are made, or advancements in technology allow us to gather more evidence from bones that were dug from the ground decades ago. This means the books are just jam-packed with the latest information on these incredible animals. From seeing T. rex skin for the first time, to an investigation that recreated T. rex’s sinister, blood-curdling sounds, I was learning new things every day. I didn’t want the project to end and I hope that readers have as much fun reading the books as we did making them! The Prehistoric Beast Uncovered series includes; Tyrannosaurus Rex - King of the Dinosaurs Megaladon - The Largest Shark That Ever Lived Triceratops - The Dinosaur Built to Do Battle Titanosaur - The Giant Earth Shaking Dinosaur
This new book, part of the Prehistoric Beasts Uncovered series, brings us hot off the press scientific information on Triceratops, one of the most recognisable of all the dinosaurs. It shows how these new discoveries are constantly adding to and even changing what we know about the creatures, and reminds young would-be palaeontologists that there’s still lots to discover. The discovery of a Triceratops tooth in 2017 proved that the animals lived in Appalachia, now the eastern part of the USA, far outside the area they were thought to inhabit. Now scientists can look for Triceratops fossils in whole new areas, and new discoveries will certainly be made. Other pages show how modern technology has revealed new information about Triceratops eating habits, but that scientists learned lots too by recreating battles between Triceratops using plastic models. Full colour throughout and with a useful glossary, this is an inspiring information book. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Publisher Ruth Owen: I love science and I love dinosaurs – so it was a fantastic opportunity to work with author and palaeontologist, Dougal Dixon, to create and publish our new series. It was also fascinating to work with the artists, from around the world, who created the life-like 3D artworks of the animals featured in the series. Every year new fossil discoveries are made, or advancements in technology allow us to gather more evidence from bones that were dug from the ground decades ago. This means the books are just jam-packed with the latest information on these incredible animals. From seeing T. rex skin for the first time, to an investigation that recreated T. rex’s sinister, blood-curdling sounds, I was learning new things every day. I didn’t want the project to end and I hope that readers have as much fun reading the books as we did making them! The Prehistoric Beast Uncovered series includes; Tyrannosaurus Rex - King of the Dinosaurs Megaladon - The Largest Shark That Ever Lived Triceratops - The Dinosaur Built to Do Battle Titanosaur - The Giant Earth Shaking Dinosaur
As of 2018, about 50 species of titanosaurs have been discovered but the amount we know about these giant creatures is expanding all the time thanks to the work of palaeontologists around the world. This new book, part of the Prehistoric Beasts Uncovered series, is filled with fascinating information and some wonderful photographs of titanosaur bones but its descriptions of the detective work that goes on in the laboratory will also inspire young readers. Did you know for example that it’s possible to work out the body temperature of a dinosaur by examining the atoms that make up its eggshell? Or that by using new LIDAR techniques, scientists have been able to work out the walking speed of titanosaurs? As well as firing their imaginations this book could well encourage young readers to study STEM subjects at school and follow experts such as Kristi Curry Rogers, whose work is featured, into palaeontology. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Publisher Ruth Owen: I love science and I love dinosaurs – so it was a fantastic opportunity to work with author and palaeontologist, Dougal Dixon, to create and publish our new series. It was also fascinating to work with the artists, from around the world, who created the life-like 3D artworks of the animals featured in the series. Every year new fossil discoveries are made, or advancements in technology allow us to gather more evidence from bones that were dug from the ground decades ago. This means the books are just jam-packed with the latest information on these incredible animals. From seeing T. rex skin for the first time, to an investigation that recreated T. rex’s sinister, blood-curdling sounds, I was learning new things every day. I didn’t want the project to end and I hope that readers have as much fun reading the books as we did making them! The Prehistoric Beast Uncovered series includes; Tyrannosaurus Rex - King of the Dinosaurs Megaladon - The Largest Shark That Ever Lived Triceratops - The Dinosaur Built to Do Battle Titanosaur - The Giant Earth Shaking Dinosaur
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.
Table tennis champion Matthew Syed offers his very best advice on how all children can help themselves to become better at anything they put their hand to. Divided up into stories, visuals, charts and brief inspirational messages Matthew Syed is inspiring and uplifting as he address his readers. He stresses the importance of creating a confident mindset and argues that, armed with self-belief, anyone can achieve amazing things both mentally and physically. A book to browse and revisit again and again for the useful ways it exhorts and coaxes all readers to make the best of themselves.
May 2018 Debut of the Month | | 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.
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!
Football crams dynamic action, breathtaking skills and heartstopping tension into 90 minutes of play. It is sport as drama, making heroes and villains out of its players, managers and officials. So says author Clive Gifford in his introduction to this book, which captures all the excitement, colour and drama of the world’s favourite sport. It’s packed full of information on the game, its key people and its history, as well as on tactics, illustrating these with real life examples from teams and players from across the world. There are stats when necessary, alongside Fact File extras, snippets of unusual and often quirky football info. Action photos in colour contribute to the sense of excitement and passionate emotion provoked by football and fans of the game will love this.
Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she's lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and without her brother. But she isn't the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn't a place, it's the people you love. Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson's stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked 'where do I belong?'
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.
I was born for killing - the gods made me to ruin. At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices' skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don't truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.
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.
Hot on the heels of Wonder Woman, and timely with Black Panther’s rapturous big screen release, this kick-ass superhero adventure abounds in extravagant Good versus Evil battles and high-octane action. In a society that’s experienced dystopian destruction, the Renegades represent goodness to most people. While the Anarchists had “cared only for change”, the super-powered Renegades emerged from the Age of Anarchy as harbingers of justice and hope. But Nova isn’t most people. Her uncle was the revolutionary leader Ace Anarchy. “Maybe Ace was really a villain. Or maybe he was a visionary. Maybe there’s not much of a difference,” Nova muses but, either way, she has reason to hate the Renegades, and she’s set on revenge. But, as she gets in deeper, even raw revenge turns out to be anything but simple. Her journey is exhilaratingly entertaining and evoked in awesome detail, with plenty of plot twists and personal dilemmas to keep the pulse racing and the pages turning.
April 2018 Book of the Month | Jamie lives on an island in the Outer Hebrides. He loves its wild beauty and the remoteness too, though he’s aware of just how much they are at the mercy of wind, waves and weather. The island is also home to Mara, a wild spirit not much older than Jamie but, it seems, completely fearless. Her ambition is to sail her boat out to St Kilda, an island that really is at the edge of the world, and when she finally sets out, pretty well accidentally, Jamie goes too. It’s a wonderful adventure story and brilliantly told, as much about the friendship between the two children and their efforts to find a place in the world as it is about their extraordinary trip. Readers who enjoy this story of courage, resilience and survival will also like Wild Song by Janis Mackay.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | An ambitious and atmospheric fantasy adventure in which an eleven-year-old girl discovers an uncanny world following the disappearance of her dad. Kay’s curious quest begins one Christmas Eve when she, her sister and mum go to collect her dad from working late at his Cambridge college. Eerily, no one knows who he is - not the porters who see him every day, and not the academic now occupying his office. Stranger still is the calling card Kay discovers on her pillow. Who are Will O. de Wisp and Phillip R. T. Gibbet? And how did this card for their removals business find its way into her room? Kay meets these strangers that very same night, and learns that they have “removed” her father. What this means, why, and where to is a mystery, but Kay is determined to discover the truth, along with the truth as to why she can see these wraiths, when humans are not generally able to. This lyrical debut boasts something of the fantastical dreaminess and classic adventuring conjured by the likes of Michael Ende and Cornelia Funke, yet the plot here unfolds in an all together more ethereal manner, with feelings and atmospheres evoked in painterly detail, and the plot progressing at an unhurried pace. Indeed, this not a book to race through. The poetic style invites utter absorption, a suspension of time, and, for that reason it comes recommended for readers who like to savour language, and suspend belief.
Sophisticated and stylish, this new board book will do more than teach children their A, B, C. Aino-Maija Metsola’s bold colours, geometric shapes and strong lines really catch the eye, letters and objects standing out vividly. The illustrations are chic but friendly – a grinning dinosaur, busy mouse and quizzical looking octopus amongst others – and the black letters are just as appealing. It provides ways to talk about colours and shapes as well as letters, and there are opportunities for counting on each page too. ~ Andrea Reece
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!’
April 2018 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2018 A deliciously exciting story with a great boarding school setting which weaves together reading and mystery in a most engaging way. Exclusive St Rita’s girls’ boarding looks like a very ordinary place. But when new girl Daphne arrives she finds that nothing is quite what it seems. Things are especially odd in the library! Can Daphne get to the bottom of what is going on? Dave Shelton’s illustrations capture the spirit of the story perfectly. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for April 2018 The Grotlyn by Benji Davies The Book Case: An Emily Lime Mystery by Dave Shelton Lady Mary by Lucy Worsley The Wardrobe Monster by Bryony Thomson The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond You Are Awesome by Matthew Syed
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.
April 2018 Book of the Month A heart-wrenching and powerful YA story exploring themes of loss, love and discovery, from award-winning, bestselling author, Gayle Forman The story is told over the course of one day with flash backs to the past to help us engage with the characters and understand what has brought them to this place and this moment in time. Through Harun we learn to understand love through his own loss and fears. The love he feels is alien and not acceptable within the society he lives in. He is ashamed, obsessed and utterly lost. Freya is a star in the making but is following a difficult path and is torn between the need for adoration and the ‘friends’ and sense of belonging she fears she will lose if she can no longer sing. Her lack of self-love is evident as she fears losing her voice will mean losing her place in the world and the acceptance she craves. Nathaniel is a tortured soul and his sadness pours from the pages as we slowly discover the tragedy that has driven him to New York. Each character is suffering their own pain and yet when they are brought together they find the strength to try a different path. But is friendship enough to heal the pain of the past? This is a tender, sad and yet uplifting tale that shows the power of friendship in times when we feel desperate and unable to find a solution. Three strangers come together and show that strength can be found with each and every one of us no matter what our individual troubles may be. That we too can find our way to a life we truly deserve when we are true to ourselves. Beautiful, tender and very important, Gayle Forman has yet again captured a coming of age take that will fill you with hope, love and courage. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
April 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: a brief and enthralling time-bending mystery | Maisie Day is ten years old and should be celebrating her birthday but something very odd has happened: not only has her family disappeared, but her house seems to be floating in an endless – and encroaching – black void. It’s hard to comprehend, but Maisie is a science genius, already studying for a degree in physics at the Open University. At the same time that she works out she’s on the edge of a black hole she makes contact with her teenage sister, Lily, the only person who can help her. In a story that explores really big ideas, Christopher Edge also finds time and space to describe one particular family’s relationships, and their experience of terrible loss. Mind-boggling and heart-breaking, the story nonetheless finishes in a moment of hope and simple happiness that everyone will understand. ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | April 2018 Debut of the Month | 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.
Calum is used to living on his own; his mother left years ago and his truck driver father is often away for days at a time. So he’s not happy when his dad moves his new Polish girlfriend and her son into their home. To make it worse, Calum and his friends have been systematically bullying the boy at school, mostly because of his nationality. But various events change Calum’s view of Sergei, and the world in general, in a story that is determinedly down-to-earth but still able to encompass dreams and wish-fulfilment. Slater references both Kes and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in the book and their influence is clear in her warm, truthful and insightful depiction of working-class life. Readers who enjoy 928 Miles from Home should look out Bubble Wrap Boy or Being Billy by Phil Earle