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The books in this section cover a range of PSHE topics including bullying, disability, family issues and autism. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and cover age ranges from Toddler to Older Teen.
September 2020 Book of the Month | Cally and Jimmy are twins but more different people it would be hard to meet. Cally is generally quiet and well-behaved, while Jimmy is anything but (his ADHD doesn’t help). It’s Cally who narrates the four separate stories contained in this very enjoyable new book, and she gives us a really good idea of what it’s like to live with the most-annoying-brother-in-the-whole-wide-world, describing the many times he gets them both into trouble, but she absolutely captures the fun they have together too. There’s a starring role for their wonderful grandma, or Yiayia as they know her (Mum is Greek) and just a lovely sense of this family. Recommended reading and hopefully there’ll be more adventures to come for the twins.
Zoe Antoniades’ stories of twins Cally and Jimmy are fantastically lively and lots of fun. There are four separate self-contained stories in the book, each one narrated by Cally, as she watches, exasperated, while her minutes-younger brother gets into trouble again and again. She knows Jimmy can’t help it really – he has ADHD – and always sticks by him so that things have a habit of working out well in the end. Their Greek family, especially their Yiaiyia (Granny), are another of the joys of the book and one episode describes their trip to Cyprus, where Jimmy outdoes himself causing chaos. The stories are accessible, absolutely believable, and readers will feel by the end that they have a new set of friends. Highly recommended.
Four fantastic new stories about everyone's favourite twins. There's always double trouble when these two are about, so get ready for more mayhem as they look after the school hamster for half term, have a competition to build the best snowman, raise money with a yard sale, and have a rollercoaster of a time at the local theme park!
Jamie is chaotic and impulsive, he wants to be normal but his ADHD makes him feel like his brain is full of butterflies, like his brain’s about to explode and come fizzing out of his ears. Elin has a perfect reputation; if she is more helpful and hardworking, surely her dad will return to them? When Jamie and Elin’s families are thrown together it seems doomed to fail…but maybe not? The depiction of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is both sensitive and honest by former primary school teacher Victoria Williamson who has a great knack of featuring the real voices of children she has met through her work. As they grapple with their differences, as Elin’s tries to distance herself from her new stepbrother Jamie the Monster who she sees as her enemy, her fairy-tale life moves further out of reach. This is a compelling book about acceptance, openness, mental health and family dynamics. I couldn’t put it down.
A clever, interesting and refreshing read, prepare for your thoughts to be thoroughly provoked. Dan is far too clever for his own good and he is sucked in and down onto the murky, dangerous road of hacking. The author shows how easy it can be to step onto the wrong path and just how difficult it is to try to right a wrong. This certainly isn't a ‘how to hack’ instruction manual, however it is obvious that a considerable amount of research has taken place with some people who really do have the know how. Dan feels normal, feels real and as though he could be your friend or someone you know. Written from Dan’s view point makes this very personal, throughout the novel you feel as though you are right by his side and perhaps surprisingly, also on his side and this makes for a compelling read.
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award March 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: how to hope for the best even when you’ve been through the worst | 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. ~ Andrea Reece *** Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take the quiz & find out! OptimistsQuiz.com
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.
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | What a luminously life-enhancing read this is. The story of ADHD afflicted underdog Felix, who “can’t concentrate or keep still”. His East German Granddad now (embarrassingly) drives the pink car that used to belong to his deceased Grandma, whose death has hit them all hard. Felix and Granddad’s grief is laid bare with heart-wrenching authenticity, but theirs is a complex relationship: “I love my granddad and I think he loves me, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.” After an altercation, Felix and Granddad forge an understanding, and look forward to a “neuangfang” (new start) that begins with a list of “Ten things I’d like to teach Felix”. Unfortunately, in Felix’s eyes Granddad’s list comprises the “ten more boring things in the world”, but Felix works through it until only the most dreaded activity remains - playing chess. He tries to wriggle out of it, but “crafty” Granddad has been surreptitiously teaching Felix chess skills and he’s soon hooked by the game, with unexpected positive side effects. A thrilling team tournament is followed waves of pulse-quickening twists that will thrust readers to the edge of their seats, heart in mouth. Throughout, the rollercoaster ride of primary school life - fallings out, friendship, fear of not fitting in - is explored in all its intense and comic complexity, and the representation of working class realisms is spot-on too. Felix’s mum and dad have both been “working stacks since Dad’s plumbing business went bust last year”. But, best of all, the magic of the relationship between children and their grandparents is dazzlingly conjured. I adored it.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | It is rather amazing to have a pet dragon. Everyone loves Zibbo, the tiny dragon, and all the children come together to join in many activities in his company. The pictures tell readers other ways in which the narrator is amazing, even though he sees them as too ordinary to mention. This is a warm, happy book which draws everyone together in their own amazing ways.
How to Take Your Place in the World | Teacher, writer, fashion icon and activist, Sinéad Burke, also happens to be a little person. This is her preferred description and one for which there were no words in the Irish language and as she recounts here, she wrote to Fóras na Gaelige, the organisation that oversees the development of the language, and 'duine beag' is now in the dictionary. This is just one example of how Sinéad approaches her life - not being defined or dictated to by the perceptions and assumptions of others. Disability is not a lack of anything, it is a difference and we are all different and unique and must make the most of our lives and our dreams. The friendly and informal presentation of the personal anecdotes, other real-life stories and calls to action are matched by the non-patronising tone of the writing. Children and young people will respond to the honesty, respect, warmth and empathy she shows her readers. The contents encourage every individual to value themselves and to think about their strengths and the things they can do better and then look at how they can make a difference to the world. It will of course make every reader see the world as it might appear to people who are different and the challenges this brings and inspire them to want to make the world a more accessible place. While it is particularly empowering for those living with differences to see themselves reflected in a book, this is an important message for every child and every child (and the adults who care for them) will benefit from reading it. A very necessary purchase for every parent and every school library.
What a stirring sunbeam of a story, with characters you’ll care about, be moved by and take enormous inspiration from. Mapping the transformational bond between a girl incapacitated by chronic illness and a young artist, The World Between Us is shot-through with a resonant reminder to appreciate being able to do what seem like life’s little things - leaving the house, being by the sea, going to a friend’s party - all of which are beyond Alice’s desperate reach. It’s also an ode to the power of friendship, opening up, and following your heart, delivered with 100% charm, 0% cheese. From her bed, Alice’s only experience of the outside world comes through watching Stream Casts. Though this means “I don’t have to be trapped inside by body. I can be strapped to the chest of brilliant people and I can watch them live lives that could perhaps be my own,” Alice remains a silent spectator - until she connects with Rowan, that is. But though their friendship forms fast, she initially keeps her illness from him, and it turns out that he’s struggling with secret troubles of his own. The juxtaposition of Alice’s bed-bound incapacitation and her best friend Cecelia’s effervescence is deeply poignant, especially when Alice feels she has to downplay her condition when Cecelia visits (Alice’s other friends have long since dropped by the wayside in the wake of her illness). The same goes for the price Alice pays each time she does a little of what she wants (and needs) to do - doing anything costs her dearly. Then there’s the guilt she feels about her parents who “gave up everything” for her. But through their connection, Alice and Rowan both learn to assuage their guilt, and to live, as affirmed by the unexpected, breath-taking ending, which is really only the beginning. Find more books with Positive Images of Disability.
Book Band: Dark Blue (Ideal for ages 9+) | A heart-warming adventure story by award-winning comedian, actress, broadcaster, hearing-aid wearer and author of Harriet Versus the Galaxy, Samantha Baines. Aneira is a hearing-aid wearer and she is super scared of the dark. When the moon suddenly goes out one night, Aneira is on a mission to turn it back on! With the help of her owl friend, she sets off on a journey to fix the moon and overcome her fear. This powerful story features beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Lucy Rogers.