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Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Nothing is what it seems in Alex Bell’s spritely, spooky novella that sees a girl figure out the sinister secrets of a toy factory. An atmosphere of underlying mystery is keenly evoked from the off: “The children of Cherryville all knew the factory was an evil place. Something awful had happened inside five years ago. It was something kids still whispered about in the playground and used to frighten each other at sleepovers.” And in the way of all creepy rumours, “None of the children in the town knew the truth for sure. They just knew that they should stay away from that factory.” Unfortunately for Tess, she and her younger siblings are forced to work in the factory when its reopening ominously coincides with her family’s farm falling on hard times. With its eccentric Willy Wonka-esque owner mysteriously only employing under twelve-year-olds, what else can they do? Inside the factory, it’s not long before all manner of terrifying events unfold, and all creepy fingers point to the teddy bears being behind them. Though short in length, this is big in impact: how’s this for an evocative description: “And the smell of damp gave way to the scent of goblin, which was something like black pepper and toffee apples mixed up together”? The story sprints to tense end, with a final twist in the tale that would give Roald Dahl a run for his money. And, being published by Barrington Stoke, it’s written and designed with reluctant and dyslexic readers in mind. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
Rosa Parks, the woman known for refusing to give up her seat on the bus, triggered a great shift in the fight for civil rights. Raised in Alabama, Rosa Parks knew all about the racism of her society from an early age. Discover how she became the brilliant activist we know today, in this beautifully illustrated book with real-life stories, timelines and facts to bring her nextraordinary story to life.
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