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All reviews tagged with Young Adult

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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…

Amundsen’s Way

Amundsen’s Way is aptly titled. It is the story of a man so single-minded and driven that there is simply no other way but his way. It is the true story, told as fiction, of the Norwegian explorer’s grit and persistence as he leads his team to be the first men to reach the South…

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…

Asterix Gliaire

Bhí an scéal ‘Asterix Gliaire’ foilsithe i 1962 mar shraith san irisleabhar ghreannán Pilote. Ansin d’fhoilsigh siad an scéal go hiomlán sa leabhar Asterix Gladiateur i 1964. Is máistrí iad Goscinny agus Uderzo. Bhí siad ag obair ar scéalta Asterix go seachtainiúil (3 nó 5 leathanach) i Pilote. Bhí orthu rud a tharla do na…

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…

Be Kind: Be Your Best Self Every Day

In a stressful world, this book Be Kind: Be Your Best Self Every Day is like a breath of fresh air. ‘Whether you practise kindness towards others or are lucky enough to receive the ‘gift’ of kindness yourself, it has an infinite transformative energy.’ Not only does the book Be Kind advocate being kind to…

Be Resilient: How to Build a Strong Teenage Mind for Tough Times

Life can be tough, especially for teenagers. There is a mountain of pressures and responsibilities that young people face every day such as school, work, socialising, hobbies and social media. They are beginning to understand more about world politics and global warming and with this can come anxiety. Life can become overwhelming, and it can…

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…

Black Artists Shaping the World

Written by award-winning black British children’s author Sharna Jackson, Black Artists Shaping the World is an exciting compilation of contemporary black artists from Africa, and of the African diaspora. Turner Prize-winning artists and photographers sit side by side with visual activists and performance artists. Jackson doesn’t focus on providing detailed biographies of the twenty-six artists…

Black Enough

Black Enough is a collection of short stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America, featuring seventeen acclaimed bestselling black American authors writing for teens today. Each story is a little puzzle piece in the black experience for black American teens and young adults. The book tries to cover what everyday…

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…

Can We Talk About Consent?

An entertaining and clear guide to what consent is, this book outlines how we can apply the principles of consent when making decisions both for ourselves and with others. This is a serious topic, but it’s handled here with a light and humorous touch. The central concepts are presented in an accessible and memorable way,…

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…

Chessboxer

Genius and child prodigy Leah Baker is one victory from chess Grandmaster, as the pieces of her family life align for catastrophic loss. Leah finds that she has everything but no one to play for. Chess has been her whole life – what could she choose if she no longer chose chess? Initially written as…

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…

Drawn Across Borders: True Stories of Migration

Author and illustrator George Butler’s debut novel was formed from a series of interviews with migrants and refugees, detailing their experiences of migration. These personal accounts were shared with the author during a number of travels to areas with high levels of migration between 2011 and 2018. The people that he met did not have…

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…

Guard Your Heart

Aidan spiralled into grief after his mother died, making every mistake a teenager can possibly make. Now, he’s focused on finishing his exams, and determined to get a one-way ticket out of Derry. Not that he doesn’t love his city, but the wider world beckons – a world where it doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic,…

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…

Managing Your Money

This guidebook offers practical instructions on how to manage money, with information on how to budget and be a smart shopper, tips on how to earn money, and advice on how to shop online with safety and security. It is a sobering thought that modern grown-ups have made such a mess of the world economy…

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…

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

Greta Thunberg is a sixteen-year-old girl from Sweden and a leading voice in the climate activism movement with her school strike initiative that is now in effect all over the world. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is a collection of the speeches she has given during her school strikes, the UN…

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…

Realm of the Hare

An atmospheric and strikingly lyrical fantasy tale that draws inspiration from a variety of mythologies in an allegorical exploration of humankind’s destruction of nature. Lovett tells the story of twelve-year-old Boudicca Moriarty, who must move to her grandparents’ farm in Ireland following the mysterious disappearance of her mother. There, under the careful watch of a…

Remarkable Creatures: A Guide to Some of Ireland’s Disappearing Animals

Remarkable Creatures is a visually stunning and informative guidebook that teaches young readers about the endangered creatures of Ireland and suggests actions they can take to help protect them. Arranged in a scrapbook style, the book takes a multi-faceted approach to teaching, with vibrant illustrations, bite-sized facts, and a variety of activities included to help…

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…

Skywake Invasion

Casey is one of the best Skywake players in the world and her squad, the Ghost Reapers, has been invited to compete in an e-sports event. However, Casey has a secret. She has been pretending to be a boy while online with her squad and is fearful about how they will react when they meet…

Sofa Surfer

This charming, fast-paced novel deals with the delicate topic of homelessness in a considerate and realistic way. As with his highly acclaimed debut novel, Malcolm Duffy manages to sensitively pepper comedy throughout the text, even when writing about characters who find themselves in harrowing situations. This unique style of writing makes for a book that…

Spirit of the River

In 2007, the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed dozens of words related to nature. One critical response was Robert Macfarlane’s and Jackie Morris’s The Lost Words, poems to the words removed. Spirit of the River is another form of resistance to loss of vocabulary. Murphy names and describes everything he sees, behaviour and habitat along with…

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…

Swallow’s Dance

Orr masterfully brings to life this coming-of-age story set in Bronze Age Thera (today Santorini). A young girl begins her initiation into the island goddess’s rituals for womanhood when disaster strikes. With her old life destroyed, Leira must find a new way to live while being the primary caretaker of both her mother and nursemaid,…

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 Awesome Power of Sleep

At a time when teenagers lead busy lives both on and offline, and many are sleeping less than before, the award-winning teenage well-being expert Nicola Morgan looks at the all-important fundamentals of sleep for teens. Broken down into accessible chapters that balance science with practical advice, Morgan looks at the necessity of good sleep, especially…

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 Climbers

Sully is the best climber in his village, and he has built his identity around this accolade, but his status is under threat from newcomer Nottingham. In The Climbers, Gray explores the dynamics of growing up in a small village where his main character’s reputation as the best climber seems more important to Sully than…

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 Gifted, The Talented and Me

Meet 15-year-old Sam and his family as they uproot from the familiar environs of their home in Stevenage to the bright lights of London, following a rise in the family’s fortunes. This move affects all members of the family and we read how they all try and cope with it in different ways. It causes…

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…

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