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These are unprecedented and turbulent times as we learn to cope with life lived within a pandemic, with little clue as to when things will get back to normal.
As nurseries and schools closed our children adapted to a life indoors, missing their clubs and activities and also missing valuable lesson time. Now schools are reopening and all children are expected to be in full-time school from the autumn term there will be renewed and different anxieties to deal with; worry about grandparents and elderly family and friends, the financial strain that many families will be under and concern for their own health too. Childline has said it has given hundreds of counselling sessions to children and young people who have been worried about Covid-19. The Childline website has tips to cope during lockdown and suggestions to help children who are worried about their schools closing, being unwell themselves or their families.
We are all under a great deal of stress and naturally feeling anxious and uncertain but we can also take comfort from the increased community cohesion, neighbourhoods springing into action to help each other and online support groups offering company and advice to those self-isolating. The book world is also uniting to offer love and support to families, with some of our best-known authors and illustrators hosting storytimes and workshops. You can find links to book readings, creative sessions and lesson planning on our Home Schooling feature.
Mentally Healthy Schools brings together quality-assured resources to help primary schools promote children’s mental health and wellbeing. To support school staff and parents during these uncertain times they are producing fortnightly, curated toolkits, with resources to help manage anxiety and improve wellbeing.
And Next Comes L has hundreds of activites and play ideas for toddlers and all school aged children. There are also a range of tips and resources to help a child suffering anxiety including printable worksheets.
We have also gathered together a collection of books that might help relieve some of the negative feelings and help our children find ways to cope, through mindfulness exercises and gentle storytelling.
Ruby's Worry by Tom Percival. Everyone could learn from Ruby. She’s a perfectly happy little girl, until she discovers a worry. The worry – depicted as a scribbly yellow shape – is hardly noticeable at first, but starts to grow and soon it’s with her all the time, stopping her from doing the things she loves. Readers will recognise Ruby’s problems and see their own lives reflected in hers. Sensitive and very reassuring this clever book raises lots of opportunities for children to talk about their worries.
Stars Before Bedtime A mindful fall-asleep book is a soothing journey through the glittering constellations of the night sky woven with tried-and-tested sleep exercises. Written by Jessamy Hibberd and Claire Grace, it provides a wealth of scientific and mythological facts about the stars which tie in with relaxing yoga and breathing exercises to help young children prepare for bedtime.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse written & illustrated by Charlie Mackesy has been a bestseller across the globe. It's a touching story of friendship, love and compassion accompanied by beautiful illustrations and 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.
The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton perfectly visualises how a child’s anxieties can grow and how they can learn to deal with them. The Worrysaurus is a lovable little dinosaur but he is a natural worrier finding it difficult to switch off and live in the moment. It's a reassuring and sweet story but it's also a useful resource to help prompt discussions about anxiety with very young children.
My Little Book of Big Questions by Britta Teckentrup is a book to encourage contemplation, one that in our frenetic world enables children to be able stop and think. It accepts that not all questions have answers, certainly not right or wrong ones, and that conversation is vital to working things out. Amongst the big questions posed are some that are existential: why am I afraid of what I don’t know? And others that are hypothetical and abstract: Is it possible to understand the whole universe? A perfect tool to encourage thoughtfulness and discussion.
The Problem with Problems, written in rhyming text by the award-winning poet Rachel Rooney, is a positive way of looking at everyday problems that children have and how to deal with them. The problems are all given a brightly coloured physical form to help children see them for what they are - and look at ways to deal with them.
It's a No-Money Day written by Kate Milner is a heart-breaking child’s eye view of life below the poverty line. The little girl, who tells the story, takes great pleasure in life from the simple, free activities they share - visits to the library and dressing up in the charity shops. Unlike her humiliated Mum, she loves the visits to the food bank for the drink and biscuits and the kind ladies to talk to. This is a book which can be used with a very wide range of children and will encourage empathy and discussion of a very current and appalling crisis in our society.
Happy: A Children's Book of Mindfulness by Nicola Edwards and Katie Hickey is a stunningly illustrated picture book, a sensitive and calming introduction for young readers on how to engage with the beauty of the world to help them to deal with the big emotions of life; Listening, Loving, Feeling...
Even the darkest storm passes,
The sun can't shine bright every day,
We can sit with our feelings and notice
How they roll through us then blow away.
Books are a wonderful way to help children learn a little more about themselves and about the world, even one that at this moment in time seems hard to understand and fraught with worry. We wish you all a safe and peaceful few weeks.
And don't forget we have a great selection of videos, activities, competitions and downloads on our LoveReading4Kids KidsZone.
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.
Rachel Rooney, well known award-winning poet, and Zehra Hicks have created a positive way of looking at the everyday problems of children and how to deal with them. The problems are all given a brightly coloured physical form to help children see them for what they are - and look at ways to deal with them. The gently rhyming text suggests ways to deal with the problem, and that sharing a problem is a way to help dispose of it. A lovely way to tackle a sometimes difficult subject in a way that will appeal to many children. Keep it in your classroom for those awkward moments when you can see a child is struggling and helpful to parents with an anxious child at home.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | As befits its subtitle ‘A Children’s Book of Mindfulness’, Happy is a sensitive and calming introduction for young readers on how to engage with the beauty of the world to help them to deal with the big emotions of life. Through its poetic text matched with warmly domestic illustrations it takes readers on a journey from ‘Mindfulness’ to ‘Happiness’ allowing space to reflex on topics such as ‘Listening’, ‘Relaxing, ‘Feeling’, ‘Loving’ and ‘Smelling’
There are life lessons galore for young readers of this hugely appealing picture book. Little dragon Fergal is a bit anxious about going off to summer camp – he’s never been before – and when he arrives, he’s so determined to make his mark that he doesn’t notice he’s being a bit selfish and upsetting the other little dragons. Fortunately, the camp leader can sort things out and give Fergal some useful advice: he needn’t be best at everything, he just needs to relax and be himself and everything else will follow. It’s an important message for all young children and it’s fun to learn it with Fergal and his little friends, as colourful and companionable a group as you could hope to meet. Look out for the first Fergal story too, Fergal is Fuming, which is just as good at prompting conversations about feelings and behaviour.
Winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize 2020 | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Everyone, children too, knows what it’s like when sadness unexpectedly comes to call, that sense of gloom that is hard to explain, and almost impossible to shake off. The situation is very skilfully depicted in this picture book, which also provides ideas and strategies for ways to cope. A young child is shown opening the door to a doleful, shapeless creature and the two become so close they are almost one. But the invisible narrator has suggestions for ways to help Sadness, so that one day, when the child wakes, it’s gone. The story is very affecting and will be useful to children who have a particular sadness in their lives as well as those who feel it for no reason they can articulate. An important and rather beautiful book. The Klaus Flugge judges said: ‘beautifully simple and pared back; the page layouts seem sparse and crisp but the work the illustrations are doing is quite extraordinary in terms of the message that sadness is something we might have to live with.’
It’s always worth taking time to gaze at Eric Carle’s wonderful illustrations and in this pocket-sized book they are used to help children develop mindfulness. When your mind feels busy, says the text, just stop and breathe; an illustration of Carle’s bright flowers and butterflies encourages just that. Simple instructions are presented alongside Carle’s invigorating illustrations, and the world does indeed feel better, more hopeful. A friendly and useful approach to learning a life skill that will benefit lots of children and adults. ~ Andrea Reece
The very first picture book from the winner of The Great British Bake Off and national treasure, Nadiya Hussain, beautifully illustrated by Ella Bailey. A touching story about a little boy whose worry monster follows him everywhere he goes. It's there when he gets dressed, when he wants to play with his toys, and even when his friends come over to visit. How can he escape his worries?
Everyone could learn from Ruby. She’s a perfectly happy little girl, until she discovers a worry. The worry – depicted as a scribbly yellow shape – is hardly noticeable at first, but starts to grow and soon it’s with her all the time, stopping her from doing the things she loved. As Ruby worries about her worry – the worst thing you can do – it gets bigger still until it takes up the whole row at the cinema. The problem is solved when Ruby finds someone else with a worry; as they talk about them, something amazing happens – their worries disappear. Readers will recognise Ruby’s problems and see their own lives reflected in hers. Sensitive and very reassuring this clever book raises lots of opportunities for children to talk about their worries.
A beautiful story about sadness, depression and hope. Blue lives in the darkest depths of the forest. He has long forgotten how to fly, sing and play. The other birds swoop and soar in the sky above him, the sun warming their feathers. But Blue never joins in. Until, one day, Yellow arrives. Step by step, Yellow reaches out to Blue. With patience and kindness. And little by little, everything changes... A thoughtful and uplifting story. Perfect for helping children learn how to deal with and understand sadness, and how to be there for people in their lives struggling with depression.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | October 2019 Book of the Month | Kate Milner, winner of the 2018 Klaus Flugge Award for most promising newcomer to children’s book illustration has certainly lived up to her laurels with this delicate and subtle picturebook, which packs a real emotional and political punch. It is a cause of great shame to many, in this country and in the 21st century, that more children than ever are living in poverty and that there has been a huge expansion in the use of foodbanks. Mum works really hard and watches every penny, but today is a no money day. Her little girl, who tells the story, takes great pleasure in life from the simple, free activities they share- visits to the library and dressing up in the charity shops. Unlike her humiliated Mum, she loves the visits to the food bank for the drink and biscuits and the kind ladies to talk to. On the way home they play the maybe one day game- dreaming of pets and washing machines and new warm clothes. They go to bed and “because of kind people our tummies are full”. Nothing is laboured in text or image- the colours are subdued but still there. The despair and tiredness of the mother is evident in every expression and nuance of body language, but so is the warmth and love between them and so is the irrepressible spirit of a child who knows they are loved even if as the pictures subtly show us, she is clearly malnourished. This is a book which can be used with a very wide range of children and will encourage empathy and discussion of a very current and appalling crisis in our society.
A new story about Willy the chimp is always exciting. Willy is off to the park when he notices a cloud following him. No matter how hard he tries he can’t escape it, and while everyone else is having fun, Willy sits and shivers. The police can’t help, and hiding inside just gets him hot and bothered. Only when Willy shouts at the cloud do things improve: in the resulting cloudburst Willy dances in the delicious cool rain, joyful and Fred Astaire-like! Browne is an extraordinarily adept storyteller and this funny, wry story explores feelings of anxiety and apprehension. As ever there’s so much to look at in the surreal illustrations, and children will discover more in each reading. ~ Andrea Reece
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2018 | The Garden of Hope is a simple story with a powerful message of hope. Isabel Otter tackles themes of sadness and anxiety alongside love and beauty, whilst exploring the delicate and heart-warming relationship between a father and daughter as they navigate their changed lives together. The absence in this book is open to interpretation, meaning that this is perfect for those looking for a book to open discussion not only on the subject of loss, but also absenteeism in the case of family breakdown. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for August 2018 Once Upon A Wild Wood by Chris Riddell Oscar and the CATastrophe by Sarah Horne Run Wild by Gill Lewis Peril in Paris (Taylor & Rose: Secret Agents) by Katherine Woodfine The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter
Children’s mental health and wellbeing are a high priority for all schools and parents. This wonderfully reassuring book is from the award-winning Rachel Bright, teamed with illustrator Chris Chatterton who has created the most adorable little dinosaur: The Worrysaurus. Parents will immediately recognise the behaviour of a natural worrier - the child that likes to plan ahead and to have thought of everything before setting out to enjoy a lovely picnic. But it is not long before the overthinking gets out of control and a suggestion from a similarly nervous lizard feeds his anxieties just as children can do to each other. But Worrysaurus has a very helpful strategy in place and he remembers his mother’s advice. He has a tin of precious things in his bag and, going through them one by one, they give him the strength to set the butterfly of worry free. Even tiny children know all about the feeling of butterflies in the tummy so this is universally relatable. He shares a lovely picnic with the anxious lizard and they learn to live in the moment instead of worrying about what might happen. While this can simply be read as an enjoyable rhyming story, it will be most useful to prompt discussion and sharing. It will work well for this purpose with children in Key Stage One and Two making it a very useful purchase indeed.
A mindful fall-asleep book | How to calm down at bedtime is a regular problem for busy children and their parents. The words and pictures of this beautiful book link relaxing sleep exercises with an introduction to the wonder of the stars shining in the night sky. Good yoga exercises and breathing techniques are the foundation of this helpful preparation for bedtime. The book also provides a wealth of scientific and mythological facts about the stars which tie in with the yoga poses. Presented partly in words and partly in pictures these provide the perfect support for learning how the exercises help falling asleep.
April 2019 Book of the Month | This is a book to encourage contemplation, one that in our frenetic world enables children to be able stop and think about things without being graded. It accepts that not all questions have answers, certainly not right or wrong ones, and that conversation is vital to working things out. Amongst the big questions posed are some that are existential: why am I afraid of what I don’t know? Why do some people turn nasty when they are in large groups? And others that are hypothetical and abstract: Is it possible to understand the whole universe? Britta Teckentrup’s dreamy, richly textured illustrations seem to allow each one space and quiet enough for the reader’s thought process. Beautiful and unusual, this will start all sorts of discussions.
Winner of the 2013 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal | The judges described the book as a "visual treat, full of mood and atmosphere, the beautiful illustrations are full of detail and perfectly in keeping with the story. The use of scale, with the big dog pushing the text off the page, is clever. A timeless, thought-provoking book about facing up to anxiety, fears, and the black dog that visits some of us from time-to-time." This beautifully illustrated edition is now available with an audio cd.
August 2019 Book of the Month | Nicola Davies celebrates the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Using the metaphor of each child being a song, she explores some of the 54 rights it sets out, from the right to education, to freedom of thought and expression, to the rights of child refugees. Short, lyrical sentences of text will start discussion and conversation and Marc Martin’s rich water-colour illustrations, whether of children, scenes or vegetation, add movement and drama. A book to inspire children to think about the world and their place within it.
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 collection features poems by three of our best-known and best-loved children’s poets, Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens. Between them, using a range of poetic styles and voices, they cover lots of topics – friendship and togetherness, difference, tolerance, bullying. Some of the poems make their point through humour while others, particularly those about the refugee experience, are necessarily bleaker; some even contain direct advice about where to go or who to turn to in specific situations. All do what poetry does best, that is they will make readers think, engage and look at things, even situations or feelings that may be really familiar, with new eyes. An excellent collection that will be read and read again. ~ Andrea Reece
January 2020 Book of the Month | “Your body belongs to you, and you get to set your own rules.” At once inspiring, informative and entertaining, this perfectly-pitched consent primer covers the concept of consent, setting boundaries, having control over your personal space and body, and being self-aware.Ideal for use in the classroom as a fun and enlightening teaching aid, the appealingly bold cartoons present big issues in an admirably relatable manner. Alongside the clear explanation of what consent is and how to set boundaries, this empathy-nurturing book also shares valuable insights into how to be a supportive friend, making it a uniquely useful navigational tool.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Winner of The Branford Boase Award 2016. One of our Books of the Year 2015. This is a special and unusual book. It features some beautiful writing, and conjures up the sights, sounds and smells of the English countryside with such clarity that you’ll feel the damp ground beneath your feet, but it’s also a moving and thoughtful description of a young boy trying to help his father through depression. From his first breath Aubrey is a rambunctious child and his parents are quickly aware of his capacity to cause chaos. Unknown to them however, he has hidden talents - he can talk to animals. When his father, normally so cheerful, is weighed down with a terrible sadness, the wild animals help Aubrey find ways to help, and even advise him on how to tackle the cause itself – the Terrible Yoot. It’s a story full of tenderness and understanding. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Penny Thomas, editor, Firefly Press Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Claire, wonderfully illustrated by Jane Matthews, has the feel of a classic children’s tale, with one of the best, visionary endings I’ve ever read. The young Aubrey tries to run before he can walk and has crashed two cars before he is old enough to drive one, but when his dad, Jim, comes under attack from an horrendous spell, Aubrey is determined to save him. With the help of the animals of Rushing Wood and a little ancient wisdom, he takes on the unkillable spirit of despair itself – the Terrible Yoot! In his first book for children, Horatio Clare takes readers to the funny and joyful world of Aubrey’s wild and imaginative life where woods, moors and animals mix with home, parents and curious neighbours. His father’s depression, and Aubrey’s heroic responses are wonderfully imagined and told in what Michael Morpurgo describes as ‘a daring book, writing and storytelling at its best’. A review from Michael Morpurgo Well, this was a joy! Here is writing and storytelling at its best. Here is a wondrous tale, from a writer who loves language, makes music of it, frolics with it, who knows the wild world of his fellow creatures about him so well, loves this world so well that it is nothing for him to talk to the animals and listen to them too…Here is a tale that sweeps you along inside its magic, and its hope… A daring book, beautifully conceived, and supremely well written. Horatio Clare has the voice of a great storyteller. As I said, a joy, a sheer joy!
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead writes books that are rich with ideas and acknowledge her readers’ intelligence and intuition. Eight-year-old Bea is the central character in her latest novel, and, typically, there’s lots going on in her life. She divides her time between her mother’s and father’s homes following their divorce and visits a therapist who helps with her anxieties. The story culminates in her father’s wedding to his new partner, Jesse. As ever, we move back and forth in time, and discover much about Bea’s inner life as well as her daily routine in New York. Relationships with family and friends propel the story and there are some real shocks and surprises for readers, plus a gradual understanding of the things that will never change for Bea. It’s beautifully written, a thoughtful, sensitive account of growing up and growing resilience and trust. Fans of Rebecca Stead will also enjoy Kate DiCamillo’s books and Susin Nielsen’s.
Meet 29 inspiring people and discover their mental health stories | The book is a bright and, at first glance, light-hearted look at mental health issues and some of the famous people who live with them and overcome them in various ways. But, as Professor Peter Fonagy states in the introduction, the graphics are intended as a ‘help to see the lighter side of ourselves’. Twenty-nine differing famous people – from current singers and songwriters to famous historical figures are all examined - with a double page spread each - giving a brief outline of their issue and how they, as individuals, found ways to deal with it. Each spread has a number of related quotations from the individual picked out and emphasized – helping readers pinpoint the issues being discussed. The problems cover a huge range of problems - PTSD, Anxiety, OCD, Panic Attacks, Sexuality issues - to name a very few. Many have some form of depression as a symptom or result – but as something like 350 million people suffer with depression worldwide it is not as surprising as you might think. The fact that all the illness details are taken from publicly available sources just shows how much better we are becoming at talking about mental health issues generally. There are some straightforward messages that come from all the cases – that talking helps, that taking time for oneself is vital and that coping skills will be different for different people. The main message I took from the book is that it is important to be honest about your condition and that it’s OK not to be OK! This last phrase is actually the heading for the list of useful and important organisations – vital in a book of this sort as young people may well browse the title, recognise their own feelings and want to get some help. An ideal book to have in classrooms and libraries, very accessible and browsable.
May 2014 Book of the Month - Winner of the Little Rebels Book Award 2015 - Longlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal Gill Lewis is renowned for her stories about powerful and beneficial relationships between animals and children. Scarlet Ibis is an emotional story about how befriending birds can help to heal Red, a little boy with complex difficulties. In Scarlet’s troubled life only one thing matters; keeping her little brother Red safe. But that’s easier said than done as Red is hard to manage and Scarlet’s mum is no help. When disaster strikes their fragile family, Scarlet and Red are separated. As Scarlet grows stronger in a new environment she finds a way of making sure Red is safe forever. ......................................... Scarlet Ibis has won the Little Rebels Book Award 2015. The award, which is for children’s fiction for readers any age up to 12 that promotes social justice, went to Scarlet Ibis because it “raises awareness of the care system, mental health issues and the challenges facing young carers”, said the judges. Kim Reynolds, professor of children’s literature at Newcastle University, and a judge of the award, said: “All the judges agreed that Scarlet Ibis stands out as a book that not only fulfils the criteria for the award but is also excellently crafted. Birds, especially the scarlet ibis, weave the book’s multiple storylines together and provide a moving backdrop for a story that celebrates the often overlooked courage, loyalty and competence of children.” Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
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.
Dynamic and visually appealing, this book inspires young people to think, not only about the planet and the impact that humanity is having upon it, but also about the ways in which we treat each other. Covering a wide range of the sort of issues that young people are likely to be most concerned about, such as climate change, pollution, animal welfare, gender equality, social justice, homelessness and hunger. Each graphically striking double spread introduces a topic and the issues of concern in a lively and accessible way. Then it introduces the young activists that are making a difference around the world. Greta Thunberg is obviously there in several sections, but over 80 young change-makers from all around the globe are featured. Then there are the pages which suggest ways in which the reader can get involved right now. How they can change their own behaviour and how they can impact upon their home and school. It even has ideas for potential eco-businesses. At the end of the book there is a really comprehensive listing of where to find these featured activists as well as organisations, books, media and websites. There is also very welcome advice on maintaining your own safety and wellbeing – the “Don’t feed the trolls” page of advice for example. A comprehensive index and glossary of terms completes this no-nonsense, non-patronising call to arms. Full of useful information and fascinating life stories this will undoubtedly be regularly picked up by the young readers it is aimed at.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2018 | Drawn from Debi's own experiences and with a moving testimony at the end of the book explaining how depression has affected her and how she continues to cope, Debi hopes that by sharing her own experience she can help others who suffer from depression, and to find that subtle shift that will show the way out.
The title of this highly empathetic and nuanced novel continues to cleverly resonate when we see chapters headed “the bulimic,” “the cool girl,” “the girlfriend,” “the popular girl”, “the best friend” and so on. At first, we do not identify these first-person narrators, but they soon begin to mesh and enable us to have a real depth of understanding of the main characters and emphasises the conflicting roles that girls feel themselves forced to inhabit. Taking place over a timeline that spans just a week, a high school is rocked and divided by the revelation that Mike, a popular high achiever and ‘golden boy’ student, has given his girlfriend, Maya, a black eye. Subsequent rumours result in split opinions about Maya: some believe that Mike should be expelled, while others think he might not have been her abuser. Maya’s best friend, Junie, from whom she’s become distanced due to Mike’s isolating behaviour, is also dealing with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder which she copes with by cutting and Maya’s relationship anxiety has also prompted bulimia. This is an unflinching, hard-hitting novel which certainly does not glamorise disordered behaviour, but enables us to understand how these negative coping mechanisms arise and to appreciate the challenges the girls face as they learn to trust and help each other again. Ultimately this is an empowering novel which advocates honesty, self-belief and the value of friendship. It will resonate deeply and provoke valuable discussion of important real-life issues.
If anyone can teach young people how to best understand themselves and their world it’s Gemma Cairney. There are lots of good self-help and advice books but Open Your Heart stands out because of Cairney’s honesty and because of her brilliant, direct voice. Reading it is like being in the same room as her and leaves you feeling more positive, more confident, readier to accept yourself for who you are. It’s divided into two sections: your heart, and your body and soul, and covers topics from family and friends to body image, sex and sexual health. Information is provided by experts, often in the form of interviews by Gemma, all interspersed with her own knowledge and experiences, as well as what she’s learned as Radio 1 agony aunt. A properly invaluable book. ~ Andrea Reece
A thrilling corkscrew of a novel that twists and turns weaving several strands of story into one compelling narrative, and the first novel from an established and bestselling picture book author for younger readers. Orphaned after the death of her parents in an air crash, Leo runs away from the aunt and uncle who are looking after her and makes her way to Glasgow to search for her grandparents. Rescued from the street by Mary who takes her in to join her collection of strange friends cared for by the community psychiatric nurse, Leo needs all the help she can get with her search. Findlay’s in trouble too, but he’s determined to help Leo in any way that he can. But someone out there is also after Leo. Can the children outwit their pursuers if they can remember not to step on the cracks?
Shortlisted for the 2012 Branford Boase Award for outstanding Debut novel. A Lovereading4kids 'Great Read' you may have missed 2011 selection. Billy's been in a care home almost all his life and as far as he's concerned, he's on his own. He's angry with the system, the social workers and the mother who gave him away. His little brother and sister keep him going, though they can't keep him out of trouble. But he isn't being difficult on purpose. Billy's just being Billy. He can't be anything else. Can he? The Branford Boase judges said: “Extremely emotionally intelligent; the voice never falters. Excellent descriptions of how the character feels. It made me cry!” The Branford Boase Award shortlist 2012: Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough Being Billy - Phil Earle Small Change for Stuart - Lissa Evans Everybody Jam - Ali Lewis Sky Hawk - Gill Lewis A Beautiful Lie - Irfan Master My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece - Annabel Pitcher
Endearingly authentic, Ro Snow is a character who stirs tenderness, empathy and much urging to survive and thrive. As a result of mum Bonnie’s extreme hoarding habit (every room of their house is a mountain of paper and pointless Amazon purchases), Ro has isolated herself, fearing that if anyone saw the squalor she and Bonnie live in, Social Services would intervene. Ro’s self-centered, insensitive dad has a new family and is no use whatsoever, which means she and Bonnie have reversed roles, with Ro keeping an eye on their bank balance while Bonnie shops and watches TV by day and earns a living as a singer by night. As this role reversal takes its toll on Ro, a fairy godmother materialises in the form of irrepressibly energetic Tanvi, who’s recently returned to school after being treated for cancer. There’s a truly uplifting, tear-jerking moment when Ro experiences the pure joy of people really believing in her, but Bonnie’s road to recovery won’t be a smooth ride. Highly readable, realistic and wholesomely heartfelt, this confirms Lisa Williamson as a YA author of remarkable empathy. Read about the story behind Paper Avalanche in our author Q&A.
Shortlisted for the Young Minds Book Prize 2009. It seems like just another day at school, then Mia's world turns upside down.School is being evacuated. Rumour has it there's a gunman in the building. And Mia has a horrible feeling she knows who it is... Her brother has been acting strangely. He's been threatening to do something drastic, something frightening, and something that cannot be ignored... but just how far will he go? Mia is determined to find out, but playing cat and mouse with a potential killer is a very dangerous game...
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | | Susin Nielsen puts her protagonists through the most terrible situations, but always manages to keep the tone of her novels light, positive and ultimately uplifting. Teenager Petula’s little sister died in tragic circumstances and the effect on the family has been shattering: her parents are both coping in their own way, but growing further apart, while Petula sees danger and threats in everything. Because of her terrible anxiety she’s been signed up to a youth art therapy group which is where she meets Jacob. Jacob has his own tragedy to deal with, but his arrival changes the dynamics of the group and helps all the different members to move on in one way or another. He and Petula become a couple, but there’s a growing realisation for her and readers that he’s not been completely honest. Readers will be gripped by Petula’s story and the way she tells it; Nielsen gives her a totally authentic teen voice, loaded with cynicism, sarcasm, humour and flashes of hope. Recommended for readers who enjoy Nielsen’s poignant, sensitive novels is I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloane.
Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal This exceptional novel from multi-award-winning Patrick Ness will, once again, delight his readers with a superbly written, enthralling and provocative story that raises the most profound questions of adolescence – and answers some of them. Seth drowns. A horrible, lonely death in the icy sea that ends with a blow against the rocks. But does it end? Seth wakes up alone, naked and in an empty world. He remembers his life – and above all his all-consuming love – and finds a way to survive in his new, desolate place. With two other children he meets, Seth explores new possibilities including what other lives there may be after death. ~ Julia Eccleshare In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for More than This a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'unique and special you will be overwhelmed by the tragedy throughout the story.' Scroll down to read more reviews...