Reviewer:

Maggie Masterson

Book Cover - The Second Hand Boy

The Second Hand Boy

Billy’s anxiety starts to get the better of him when his only pal Marty moves away. Not even his favourite subject, Space, makes him feel better. It is hard enough having to take care of his mum, a ‘sensitive soul’ who often cannot get out of bed, but the loneliness he feels with the stress of regularly being bullied takes its toll.

Book Cover - Gods Don't Cry - Unsung Stories of Ireland's Forgotten Immortals

Gods Don't Cry: Unsung Stories of Ireland's Forgotten Immortals

Ellen Ryan delivers another stellar compilation with these tales of Irish gods filled with adventure, magic, courage, self-actualisation, and relationship to others and the land. Ryan reimagines the action, downplaying the more traditional, sometimes toxic masculinity associated with tales of derring-do, and highlights qualities of the gods that are more inclusive, emotive, and multi-dimensional.

Book Cover - Grapefruit Moon

Grapefruit Moon

The pressures on students at an elite Belfast secondary school are intricately woven into this realistic and gritty tale, as told in the voices of friends Charlotte and Drew. Charlotte is wealthy, privileged, under the strict eye of her mother, and is being blackmailed by her Ex. Drew is a working-class newcomer, a fish-out-of-water who makes a damaging, drunken mistake.

Book Cover - Can I Come Too

Can I Come Too?

Fans of Davey’s About series from Flying Eye Books will be delighted with this sweet tale of sibling relations. Cub asks Teddy: ‘Can I come, too?’ while dad tells Teddy to keep an eye on Cub. But Teddy wants some alone time without the nuisance of Cub, who is always underfoot. The story is simple: Cub wants to be part of Teddy’s activities, but Cub’s participation usually involves accidents and antics like catching Teddy in the fishing net, tipping the canoe or tripping over tackle boxes. The day slowly unravels, and Teddy gets cross, but Cub persists.

Book Cover - Bear and Bird - The Picnic and Other Stories

Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories

Jarvis delivers four charming stories of two unlikely friends. Bear and Bird plan adventures for one another and help each other out of small scrapes, like when Bird makes the best out of a picnic where Bear forgets the food. Or when Bear buoys Bird’s spirits by asking Bird if he might keep her terrible painting. Comedy ensues when Bear hears a talking flower, and Bird thinks she has been replaced by a fluffy blanket. Ultimately, Bear and Bird just enjoy spending time together, a theme that runs throughout their silly antics.

Book Cover - To the Other Side

To the Other Side

Meza tells a story of two refugee children that is both timely and appropriate. The subtle interplay between text and image allows for a realistic but sensitive reading of what is happening here. The first line reads: ‘The rules of the game are simple. Avoid the monsters, don’t get caught, and keep moving.’ The young boy soon declares he is tired of the game, but his older sister urges him on until he realises … this is not a game.

Book Cover - The Very Best Hug

The Very Best Hug

Who gives the very best hug? Join the search to discover which animal has the snuggest squeeze and the comfiest cuddle in this romp of a journey that reveals the power of hugs. Animals of all sorts are illustrated in a sweet, uplifting story where one child is on the hunt throughout the rooms of the house for the very best hug. Everything from koala cuddles to skunk squeezes is tried and tested, but in the end it’s the hug from a loved one at home that wins the day.

Book Cover - Monster! Thirsty! Drink!

Monster! Thirsty! Drink!

Monster is back, and the hilarity continues! After last year’s Monster! Hungry! Phone! we meet Monster on a very hot day just when he spills his drink. He encounters a variety of animals in search of a thirst quencher, and each scene is funnier than the last.

One and Everything - book cover

One & Everything

Inspired by the Endangered Alphabets project, Winston tells a story of many languages of the world, represented in soft water-coloured bubbles filled with different script patterns. The bubbles start to be devoured by a black and white bubble that decides it is the most important story in the world. As The One and Only Story consumes all the other stories, the illustrations move from many colourful bubbled pages to a growing black blob, to a solid black page.

The Boy Who Lost His Spark - book cover

The Boy Who Lost His Spark

When city boy Jem moves to the countryside with his mother and sister, his sadness and anger about the move overwhelm him. Trying his best to hide his feelings, most go unnoticed by anyone except an ancient creature living deep in the hillside, a “nouka”, a mischief-maker from local folklore whose purpose is to distract from unhappiness. The nouka may string yarn in a maze along the staircase, or make the cat behave badly, or hide school bags, doing any number of naughty acts designed to spark curiosity and bring back a sense of wonder.