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A Change is Gonna Come

This anthology of stories and poems by twelve BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) writers contains ‘as many BAME UK YA voices … as the rest of the industry combined’ according to one of its authors, Aisha Bushby. To address this woeful lack of diversity, four new voices join eight established writers in exploring different…

A Darkness at the End

The previous book in Ruth Frances Long’s trilogy left heroine Izzy in a dark place. She was forced to take some drastic decisions that ultimately led to the death of her boyfriend, Jinx. Although some time has passed, things haven’t improved much. Izzy’s lost her memory and with it some of her ability to keep…

A Gathering Light

There’s nothing like a murder on the first page of a novel to grab your attention, and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Gathering Light, is definitely a challenging and absorbing read. The story of two young lives brought together by tragic circumstances, it is a truly moving portrayal of life on the east coast of America in…

Abandon

Abandon is the first in Meg Cabot’s similarly titled new dark fantasy romance series. The plot centres on a young girl named Pierce, struggling to return to normal life after a near-death experience. This is somewhat hindered by the presence of someone she met while down there. Abandon is a new direction for Cabot; it…

Amazing Women: 101 Lives to Inspire You

As its title suggests, this is an amazing resource for young girls and boys, with a vast selection of women who have changed the world in some way. Potted biographies stand alongside glorious illustration. Some of the names are familiar – Michelle Obama, Helen Keller – but others such as Shirin Ebadi and Radia Perlman…

Amy Peppercorn: Starry-Eyed and Screaming

Amy Peppercorn’s chaotic life becomes even more confusingwhen her amazing voice leads to a deal with a record company. By succumbing to trashy manufactured pop, Amy knows she is betraying her principles. Family and friends begin to act differently towards her and she feels carried along by forces stronger than herself. All the while Amy…

Angel’s Fury

Every night Cassie Farrier, GCSE student, dreams of the death of Zillah, a little Jewish girl in Nazi Germany. On a school trip to Germany she recognises the field in which Zillah was shot. In the hope of ending her nightmares, she leaves an anonymous tip to the authorities, which leads to the discovery of…

August ‘44

Like Carlo Gébler’s previous children’s book, Caught on a Train, this is an exploration of the human impetus to tell stories. Here, the framing story is much stronger than in the earlier book and the relationship between inner and outer stories more developed. The framing story concerns an 11-year-old Jewish child and his extended family,…

Bad Alice

This is a brave novel in many respects, not least because of its narrative experiments, but mainly because of the manner in which it foregrounds two children’s attempts to deal with a difficult and sensitive topic shrouded in secrecy and silence. Ordinary means of communication fail the young protagonist Alice – bad Alice – and…

Beauty

Beauty is a finely spun retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the early middle ages. Written as a novel which is narrated by the young girl herself, it unfolds her story of growing up like a bud unfolding to a full-blown rose. She is lively, stubborn and angular, until, falling slowly in love…

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl

This is the best teenage novel I’ve read since Stargirl, in spite of the misleadingly in-your-face title. Never for one moment does one feel that this is written by someone who is ‘really’ an adult author on a little holiday – though one does keep noticing how experienced a hand is at work here. Ugly…

Biographic Austen

Impeccably researched, concise and laugh-out-loud funny, this unique biography uses beautiful graphics and brightly coloured charts to illustrate Austen’s life, talent and enduring legacy. Learn about the etiquette of a Regency ball, see the hierarchy of servants in a middleclass home, and compare the degree to which each Austen heroine was ‘marrying up’ financially. The…

Biographic Leonardo

It’s difficult to think of a historical figure better suited to an infographic biography than Leonardo da Vinci, whose very name brings to mind one iconic image after another. Instead of using text to recount a linear story, this book uses maps, timelines, pictures and charts to illuminate key moments in his career, as well…

Blue Moon

The subject of teenage pregnancy is sensitively handled in this really enjoyable novel. Mia is only 15 and it is easy to see how the ‘mistake’ occurred. The sexual element is there of course, but it is not dwelt upon; the concentration is on Mia’s growing awareness of what has happened and the difficulties she…

Bombs and Blackberries: A World War Two Play

Donaldson’s children’s play was first published in 2003, by Wayland, in a cheaper, practical edition suitable for using in schools. The most immediately striking thing about this more luxurious edition is the richly attractive illustrations creating a sense of warmth and intimacy not commonly associated with plays for children. In fact, those very illustrations contribute…

Borderland

This fantasy is the first part of a trilogy. Set in a parallel world, it focuses on the interconnecting fates of three groups of young people, two fantastic and one real. There are a lot of different characters to get to know at the beginning, so it is a little hard to get into at…

Born Scared

It’s Christmas Eve and teenager Elliot isn’t just scared, he’s terrified. This isn’t the type of fear you have when you realise you’ve forgotten to buy your mam a Christmas present. This is the ‘fear of fear itself’. A gnawing, unrelenting monster or, as described by Elliot, ‘a howling demon whirling around’ inside. The only…

Brightstorm

Those familiar with the tradition of adventure stories, from Treasure Island to The Lost World, will thoroughly enjoy Vashti Hardy’s Brightstorm. The story describes a society deeply saturated by the spirit of discovery, adventure and expedition, set in a map with large chunks still marked ‘Unknown.’ So when Ernest Brightstorm, an adventurer considered an ‘upstart’…

Bud, Not Buddy

‘…I don’t know when it happened, but it seems like my eyes don’t cry no more.’ Ten-year-old ‘Bud not Buddy’ has lived in a children’s home for four years since his mother died. Precious mementos of their life together are kept in his suitcase, which he takes everywhere with him. Sent to a foster home…

Caught in the Crossfire

Set in the fictional English town of Oldfield, this novel explores some of the racial tensions which surfaced in Britain after the devastating events of September 11th 2001. It is focused mostly around two families. Mike’s family are from the white, working-class Moorside estate; Rabia’s family are Muslims and they live in the ethnically mixed…

Coming of Age

Amy’s growing up is painful. When only nine, she witnessed her mother’s death in a riding accident and the trauma caused Amy to lose her ability to speak and her memory of what actually happened. As her life slowly returns to normal, her voice eventually comes back, but her memory of the incident remains elusive…

Contagion

The first instalment of Terry’s newest trilogy Contagion takes the reader on a fast-paced journey through Scotland, from the isolated Shetland Institute to the idyllic village of Killin. It is in Killin that Shay first meets Kai. Shay was the last person to see Kai’s sister Callie alive before her mysterious disappearance a year ago.…

Dad’s Red Dress

Jessie Keane just wants her family to be normal… utterly, completely normal. Having moved from L.A. back to Ireland, normality would offer a chance to avoid the ‘looks’, the rumours and the bullying that she has dealt with in the past. But ‘normal’ is hardly possible. Not with a little sister who claims to have…

Doing It

Somebody described this book to me as ‘shag, shag, shag’. Actually, there is far more snogging than shagging, and there is much more talk about shagging than there is actually ‘doing it’. Moreover, there is almost as much blushing as there is snogging, and far more anxiety, frustration, sexual failure and emotional insecurity than there…

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

‘Everyone is born with their own story, whether they recognise it or not, and this story will support and carry them through life.’ This is what Hafiz, a teenage Syrian refugee in Brighton, explains to classmate Stevie after they skive off school together. Each a misfit in their own way, they bond over their respective…

Elias Martin

At seventeen, Elias Martin was driven north ‘by dint of not fitting in anywhere else’. For twelve years Elias lives a solitary life of constant struggle to stay warm and fed as he slowly learns the skills that allow him to survive in the harsh tundra of the far north. One day, he sees strange…

Exploring History Series

These books, from a new ‘Exploring History’ series, chart the history of a variety of countries and continents before and after the arrival of Europeans. Each book is written by an author associated with the country in question and this has broadened the viewpoint presented in each. In India, the author appeals directly to the…

Faerie Wars

These wars take place in richly imaginative worlds teeming with characters of amazing variety. These range from humans to demons to faeries of the night to those of the light, all interacting with other strange beings like a translucent cat and an orange dwarf. It is a gripping adventure story with many strands; almost too…

Fat Boy Swim

On the surface of it this looked like a good book. Jimmy, the central figure, is a very overweight young man who has to deal with his size and all the attendant problems that this brings to his life. The book is cleverly conceived – chapters are grouped into what looks like a menu: starters,…

Feather Wars

Feather Wars is set in the early years of World War II. It is unusual in that its setting is rural England where the war seems remote and offers little opportunity for the usual blitz and bomb shelters scenes. The writer skilfully intertwines the story of the war in France and a different sort of…

Follow Me Down

Follow Me Down is the debut novel from Julie Hearn, formerly a journalist and one of Philip Pullman’s creative writing students. This book deserves attention – it is quite simply one of the most original and compelling books from a new author since Nicky Singer’s Feather Boy. This is the story of Tom, a well-rounded…

Geis – A Matter of Life & Death

A geis is a mythological Gaelic curse, under which you must obey certain rules and limitations or suffer the consequences. But rules are always broken and that’s when it gets interesting. On her deathbed, the great leader Matarka has decreed a contest to decide who will succeed her. After her passing, fifty random citizens are…

Goldenhand

In Goldenhand, Garth Nix takes us back to the Old Kingdom, shortly after the events of Abhorsen (published in 2003) and immediately after the events of Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case (2005), and reunites the reader with many familiar characters, including Lirael, Nick, Sabriel, Touchstone and their children. Even Mogget makes a…

Hostage

David lives with his mother and younger brother. His father committed suicide four years ago as a result of depression and drink. His mother takes in a lodger, Sam, to help her financially and he and David become good friends. Sam treats David in an adult way and brings him to an important football match.…

How To Rob A Bank

Dylan is a 15-year-old with a problem; he appears to have burnt down his friend Beth’s house. He thinks (quite naturally) that he’s spoilt his chances with her and plans to rob a bank to reimburse her (as you do). The fire, however, proves to be merely the first incident in an accident-prone narrative that…

Image & Imagination: Ideas and Inspiration for Teen Writers

The teenage years are a curious time for young writers: on the one hand, it is a time of creativity and having much to say, and on the other hand, there are so many rules and regulations for writing within a school system that they grow wary of getting it ‘wrong’. Image & Imagination is…

Ink

They say not to judge a book by its cover. However, in the case of Ink, you wouldn’t be in wrong in doing so. The illustrations on the cover of the book are breathtaking. The shiny bronze designs are set against a black backdrop which draws attention to the intricacies of the artwork. Though the…

Inventing Elliot

Elliot Sutton endures a life of incessant torment at the hands of vicious bullies until an unexpected family tragedy leads to a move of house, a new school and a fresh start. Paralysed emotionally by his previous experiences, Elliot vows that he will never again be a victim and will seize the new opportunities offered…

James Joyce: Literary Legend

James Joyce: Literary Legend is the latest instalment of Poolbeg’s In a Nutshell series. The illustrated paperback describes the life and career of one of Ireland’s greatest writers. Andrew O’Connor’s text provides a very clear overview of the key moments in the life of James Joyce. The reader is brought on a journey, which includes…

Kill All Enemies

I’ve always liked the power of Melvin Burgess’s writing – though not always his subject matter – and was accordingly satisfied by his latest book. Although at first, I disliked the three protagonists: they’re loud, aggressive and violent. In fact, they’re very similar to those who ran riot, wrecking the streets of London in August…

Lark

Those who have enjoyed the first three books of this series will be saddened by the fact that this appears to be the last. Just like the lark of the title, Anthony McGowan has created in Nicky and Kenny characters that are as captivating and vulnerable as they are rare. Narrator Nicky has a kind,…

Last Chance

anything.’ Thus 15-year-old Julian on the opening page of this ambitious novel, as he contemplates the complexities of his domestic situation. His father has just returned to the West Indies, leaving the boy some money, details of a betting system by which he will apparently make a fortune on horse racing and, most significant of…

Locomotion

Four years after their parents were burned to death in a house fire Lonnie (also known as ‘Locomotion’) and his younger sister Lili are now living, separately, with foster mothers. For Lonnie, 11 years of age, the trauma of the loss of his parents still hurts. It is his teacher, Ms Marcus, who, in inspiring…

Lola Rose

This book, in which an abused mother and her two children run away from a criminally violent dad to a new, adventurous life, deals with a whole range of predictable Wilsonesque ‘issues’ – domestic violence, parental inadequacy, alcohol abuse, sexual irresponsibility, social exclusion, cancer, food-related disorders and fat – but it handles them with an…

Looking after your Mental Health

If someone has broken their arm and it is covered with a plaster cast, it’s fairly obvious to everyone what is wrong. If someone suffers from a mental illness, this may be less easily identifiable. We live in a world full of stress. For teenagers there are many pressures which affect their quality of life…

Love, Shelley

An account of a 14-year-old girl’s life in a series of letters to her favourite singer Ziggy. Shelley, the narrator, feels she can be truly honest with her idol. Her letters reveal the neglect and verbal abuse that she and her delicate younger brother, Jake, suffer due to their mother’s alcoholism. School also presents problems…

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice

Everyone knows the story of Pride & Prejudice, which is, of course, the story of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. Jane Austen’s romantic tale has been capturing readers’ hearts for centuries. But what of the youngest and wildest Bennett daughter Lydia, the one who really tried her poor mother’s nerves? Dismissed as the flighty one…

Mollie on the March

This sequel to The Making of Mollie takes Anna Carey’s charming young suffragette heroine, Mollie Carbery, into the summer months of 1912. Like its predecessor, the book is written through letters to Mollie’s friend Frances, who is now on holiday in America—something the Carberys could never afford. Mollie’s frustration at not being able to travel…

Moondust

Following a future energy crisis and subsequent war, the discovery of a miracle energy source on the moon brings restored peace to Earth. Teenager Aggie lives on the Lunar Base, working alongside various Lunar Inc. personnel, from surface analysts and mining operatives to prisoners and guards. As the company celebrates an important anniversary, Aggie is…

Motherland

‘There were so many ways of being and expressing myself that I had to leave behind, and so many ways I had to relearn.’ Maya is poised between two cultures – American and Indian – and, at 15, between adolescence and adulthood as she visits her mother’s wealthy family in southern India. The author vividly…

Movers

Patrick is a Mover, a person with the power to ‘Move’, or pull people from the future to the present. Unfortunately, due to the sudden influx of people from the future using our resources, Moving is banned and all Movers are closely monitored, under threat of permanent sleep. Naturally one day, as it must in…

My Secret Camera

Mendel Grossman, a talented young photographer, secretly photographed the lives of Jews imprisoned with him in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during World War II. The simple, moving text, written in the first person, communicates directly with the reader. Together with the unforgettable photographs of everyday events and people, it provides a unique record of…

Night Shift

‘I had lost my compass and without it any map was forfeit.’ Debi Gliori, best known for ‘lovely’ picturebooks for younger readers, reminds us here that illustrated texts are not just for kids. The heroine of Night Shift is deeply depressed, through the condition is never named as such. Instead, a combination of pencil drawings…

Nobody Real

Marcie and Thor Baker are firm friends, but very different people. For one thing, Marcie lives in the real world and Thor is her imaginary friend. It’s the summer after her final exams and Marcie has some big decisions to make, and despite being sent away six years ago, her old pal Thor is back.…

Passing for White

This novel is based on the true story of Ellen and William Craft, as told in their memoir. It is by and large a very faithful account of their journey from slavery into freedom. The reason for the change of names to the fictional Rosa and Benjamin of the novel may possibly be explained by…

Pictures from the Fire

In an asylum hostel somewhere in Europe, Emilia Radu finds an old diary, and fills its blank pages with pictures that attempt to make sense of events she feels her family may be ‘afraid to remember, just as she was afraid to forget’. Fair-haired and pale-skinned, Emilia has always been something of an outsider and…

Piglettes

This may just be the first positive book about the transformative power of cyber-bullying. Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have been voted the ugliest girls in their school in a nasty on-line competition that the teachers can do nothing to stop. It hurts. It isolates. It humiliates. But in a bold turning of the tables, it…

Popular

Gareth Russell’s debut novel, Popular, follows the ups and downs of the lives of the rich and popular clique of fictional Mount Olivet Grammar School in Belfast. Full of the mini-dramas we can expect from teenage life, Popular chronicles the parties, break-ups and relationships, social politics and lifestyles of the wealthy sons and daughters of…

Re-Made

Mr Scarrow knows how to ensure a few sleepless nights. This book is not for scaredy-cats like me, but I loved it. The whole idea of an extermination is nothing new in literature but this one is a bit special: a virus is killing all living things with the exception of plants. There is cross…

Read My Lips

This is a wonderful story of courage and survival. Set in a residential school for the deaf, it tells of the trials and tribulations of deaf children as they split into two distinctly hostile camps, the signers and the speakers. The result is a deaf city war, which becomes increasingly volatile, with those on either…

Return to Ribblestrop

Calling all Ribblestrop fans. Term time is about to commence at this unusual school and the new instalment of life at Ribblestrop Towers will not disappoint. From beginning to end, term time is fraught with rib-tickling incidents that would frustrate the most tolerant of headmasters. From the outset, Millie’s journey is fraught with difficulties, albeit…

Running Home

Reading a novel in proof form can be a serendipitous experience – no cover illustration, author biography or quotes from other reviews to give even an inkling of what to expect within. The plain blue covers of the proof of Running Home, giving it a look of Bunreacht na hÉireann (The Irish Constitution) provided no…

Secret Sacrament

This book flows gently yet powerfully, taking the reader into a landscape where two civilisations co-exist. One is an imperial city with an edgy empress, a daily hive of activity in a palace and, luckily, a vestige of its saner days – a training temple for students of healing. The other culture lives at the…

See You in the Cosmos, Carl Sagan

Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski and his dog Carl Sagan are on a mission. A space mission. They have a rocket to launch at a desert festival and it will carry recordings of life on Earth so that aliens can learn about us. The fact that the novel is the record of these transcripts suggests that they…

Stoner and Spaz

What would happen if a boy with cerebral palsy and a great sense of humour became friends with a girl with a drug addiction? When this question occurred to Ron Koertge, it became the inspiration for his novel Stoner and Spaz. Ben Bancroft loves the cinema. What begins as enjoyment of the escapism offered by…

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World Without Killing Any Dragons is an extremely important collection about remarkable, sensitive and emotional men. Men who felt so much that they were driven to overcome a myriad of obstacles in order to reach their goals or to…

Suee and the Shadow

This beautiful, unsettling Korean graphic novel combines text and art in an almost seamless way. Suee is a courageous but cynical twelve-year-old. Her parents have divorced. She lives with her recently demoted, depressed father. She is forced to move both home and school, from Bustle Elementary to Outskirts Elementary, and to a tiny house. She…

Superhuman

Considering the extent of skateboarding mania currently abroad, there are relatively few children’s books which focus on this sport or pastime. Matt Whyman imparts a passionate appreciation of this skating culture which is instantly appealing. At first the book appears to base itself on the old winning formula for children’s books, ‘The Campaign’. But very…

Tales from the Inner City

In this new collection of 25 short stories, Shaun Tan explores the relationships between animals and humans in the city. It’s deep, dark stuff filled with revelatory truths. In a story about a pig, we are confronted with the reality of our diet. In a story about a sheep we encounter the hopelessness of individual…

Tales of the Peculiar

Following in the footsteps of other fictional folklorists like Beedle the Bard, Millard Nullings, the invisible resident from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has collected his own compendium of fairy tales set in that world, coming from a wide range of locales and eras. Upon picking up the book, the first thing that will…

The Angelica Touch

L. J. Sedgwick is a well-known name in screenwriting circles. Anybody with young children will be aware of Punky, possibly the first mainstream animation worldwide to focus on a main character with special needs. This, her latest book for young adults, is set on a wild peninsula in Donegal. Angelica is the titular main character,…

The Astonishing Colour of After

The Astonishing Colour of After is the début novel by American author, Emily X.R. Pan. This brave novel tells the story of American-Chinese Leigh, a teenaged girl who has just lost her mother to suicide. The reader travels with Leigh on her journey to Taiwan, where she meets her mother’s estranged parents for the first…

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is a graphic novel which may introduce readers to some very challenging topics and questions around gender, equality and violence. From the outset the female gender of the protagonist presents as a problem, in a male dominated and controlled world. The dark shades of colour throughout the panels reinforce the sombre, melancholy mood…

The Crystal Run: Shield of Lies

The Crystal Run introduced us to the long-running dystopian battle between the lands of Carcassia and Kanabia, and two young people caught up in its crossfire: Kaia, a girl brought up and trained to face danger to protect her native Carcassia; and Joe Hunter, an ordinary English boy who literally fell into danger when his…

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is an extraordinary book. The narrator is a 15-year-old boy, Christopher, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The book opens with the murder of his neighbour’s dog, and Christopher sets himself the task of finding out who killed it. This is a daunting task for someone who knows a great deal about maths but very little…

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl suffering from Stargardt disease, which causes gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. With the doctors estimating that she has only six months before her vision fails completely, Mafalda begins to write a list of all the things she loves and won’t be able to do any more. All children are…

The Family Tree

Peet’s emotionally charged book is not one that will be easily forgotten. It is a story of family, specifically the breakdown of young Benjamin’s family. When Benjamin returns to his childhood home and sees the derelict state of his father’s old treehouse, he recounts to us the story of how his parents’ marriage broke down…

The Harder They Fall

This funny and thought-provoking book is the latest offering from Barrington Stoke’s super-readable teen series. It is a great book for all readers. It focuses on friendship and family. It also looks at the all too common problems of poverty and bullying through the eyes of the geeky and highly likeable protagonist Cal, who volunteers…

The House of Mountfathom

Luke Mountfathom is the son of two powerful Draiochta, an ancient order of magic users sworn to use their power to aid the Irish government. But Ireland is on the brink of war, and Luke and the Draiochta find themselves fighting to preserve peace. Rich, folklore-inspired fantasy set in a time of civil and political…

The Irish Civil War 1922-1923: Ava’s Diary

The Irish Civil War was an extremely violent period of Irish History, one full of bloodshed, carnage and fighting between sisters and brothers. Ava is experiencing a time of turmoil in her own life nowadays, and this is recorded through her diary. One day she and her mysterious friend Mal discover a treasure trove of…

The Mediterranean

The opening spread of Greder’s tough, uncompromising book contains only the words “after he had finished drowning, his body sank slowly to the bottom, where the fish were waiting.” Hanging on to the right-hand edge of the page, like a doomed man on a capsizing boat, the words impel the turning of the page to…

The Mighty Crashman

Every now and then something a little bit special appears that reminds us that excellent literature can transcend any perceived differences between adult and juvenile genres. The Mighty Crashman is one such book. Chronicling the relationship between two 13-year-old boys – John Patrick Coogan aka ‘Crash’ and his neighbour Penn Webb – it is a…

The Nearest Faraway Place

The Nearest Faraway Place is as its blurb says ‘a powerfully told story of the love between two brothers in the aftermath of a family tragedy’. Dylan and Griff loose both their parents in a car crash. The story is well narrated by elder brother, Dylan—named for Dylan Thomas, the poet. We follow the boys’…

The Red Ribbon

Fourteen-year-old Ella is a talented seamstress, and her skills are very important in this new world she finds herself in. She has been brought to Birchwood, and will make dresses and clothes for the glamorous ladies who frequent the studio. However, this is no ordinary sewing studio. It is in Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Ella and her…

The Rogue | Traitor Spy Trilogy

Trudi Canavan, with rich, evocative images and strong characters, draws the reader straight into each world she has created. Her second book in the Traitor Spy Trilogy, The Rogue, is a welcome return to the world of her hugely successful Black Magician Trilogy. Although set twenty years after the end of the first trilogy, the…

The Smoke Thieves

A hunter, a princess, a soldier, a traitor and a thief find their fates weaving together in this medieval fantasy. Catherine is the daughter of a ruthless king, her upcoming marriage based on strategy rather than love. Her former bodyguard, Ambrose, who has won her heart, has been declared a criminal and has fled. March,…

The Story of Michael Collins

In a series of short, clearly-headed chapters, this biography tells of the short life of Michael Collins from his West Cork boyhood to his tragic death. It is sensitive to the complexity of history. The character of Collins is very vividly portrayed as are those of some of the other characters. The late Iosold Ní…

The Tiger on his Back

Barrington Stoke specialise in books suitable for emergent, reluctant and dyslexic readers. Ashley utilises clear, vivid and succinct language to create a coming of age story which is brief and to the point. Though short, the text contains important themes such as self-identity, honesty and independence. When Sofia Drake decides to express her love for…

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

In the second instalment of Cowell’s The Wizards of Once, the adventures of Wish, a Warrior girl in possession of a powerful Magic Spelling Book, and Xar, a Wizard boy with a dangerous Witchstain on his hand, continue. Cowell masterfully creates a universe full of fearsome beasts who keep the story fast paced and firing…

Too Much Trouble

Em, the book’s narrator, and his younger brother Prince are sent from their troubled native Africa to England, to what their parents believe is the protection of their uncle. With echoes of some of the most notorious of Britain’s child abuse cases, the boys are by turns assaulted and neglected by their relative. After a…

Unearthly

Cynthia Hand’s debut novel Unearthly will appeal to readers who enjoy a touch of romance combined with more than a hint of the paranormal. The story takes place in the United States and the protagonists are stereotypical American teenagers, albeit some possess angelic powers. The degree of power possessed by the angel characters depends on…

What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems

This is an invaluable handbook for readers, writers and teachers of poetry. Its unintimidating cover, large print, and sparse, jokey illustrations belie the well-devised content, which supports UK National Curriculum English at Key Stages 2 and 3 (children aged 7-14). The title poses an impossible question – to answer it Rosen examines all the things…

Who is Jesse Flood?

This is a wonderful book for young and adult readers alike, in which Jesse Flood, a 14-year-old-boy, tries to deal with the ups and downs of life as a teenager in a dull seaside town, aptly named Greywater. His father is an alcoholic good-for-nothing whom his mother eventually leaves, and we hear Jesse’s inner voice…

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow is the story of how Annabelle *** learned how to lie. She has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life – the quietest of places, scarred by the trauma of two world wars. Annabelle understands her life and the way her world turns – until the arrival of Betty Glengarry. Betty is cruel…

‘Media Wise’ Series

Part of a series dealing with various aspects of the media, ‘Media Wise’, these books would be an excellent classroom resource for students or teachers. Starting with an overview of the form and functions of the topic, the books quickly progress to examine the technology, processes, people and ethics involved in each area. The text…


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