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The books in this section all have a theme of conservation, raising environmental awareness and/or championing green issues.
So, so readable, Of Ants and Dinosaurs with the lightest and brightest of touches, made my brain itch with its creativity and klaxon alarm. Perfect for readers from young adult on, this sets itself as a “satirical fable, a political allegory and ecological warning”. In a time long long ago ants and dinosaurs joined forces to build a magnificent civilisation, when doom threatens will the dinosaurs listen to the ants? Cixin Liu is China’s number one science-fiction writer and his The Three-Body Problem was the first translated novel to win a Hugo award. I just love the cover, and the ants marching across the chapter pages had me smiling. As soon as I started to read my attention was well and truly caught. The prologue sets the scene with wonder and I read and believed without a moments doubt. While portraying the ant and dinosaur alliance, there is very much a warning to the human race here. Deceptively simple and brilliantly clever, I simply adored it.
Hope Jones is a smart 10-year-old who is determined to save the world. She’s already persuaded her family to change their shopping habits, now she wants them to turn vegetarian. And not just her family – Hope sets her sights on making her school cut out meat too. Winning her classmates round is one thing, the school dinner ladies quite another. The more Hope tries to change things, the more complicated she realises it is, but armed with facts and information, plus a huge amount of passion, Hope is able to persuade people to alter their habits and to make a real difference at home and school. The story is told via Hope’s blog and it makes for sharp, lively, often very funny reading. Readers will be gripped by Hope’s campaign and will finish the book just as well informed as Hope and fully aware of how the choices we make every day affect the world. The story will set readers thinking about how democracies work too and should spark all sorts of conversations.
January 2021 Book of the Month | Set in a magical world, this glorious tale of adventure and daring stars the most unlikely heroine because, as the narrator explains, sometimes it takes a story to show that the truly extraordinary people – the ones who defeat monsters and save kingdoms – are often the ones that nobody notices at first. If that statement doesn’t make you want to snatch up the book and read it from beginning to end, then you have no heart! Smudge is indeed overlooked – she’s clumsy and in her own words ‘a bit useless’ but somehow, she emerges as the only hope for Crackledown when the evil harpy Morg tries to steal its magic. Fortunately, Smudge is also courageous, inventive and determined – and she has an equally remarkable helper in the shape of tea-drinking, trilby-wearing talking monkey, Bartholomew. Their adventures as they sail beyond the treacherous Northswirl and journey into the heart of the Everdark forest are filled with everything that makes for the best adventures, including magic, drama, narrow escapes, shared laughter and lots of heart. Originally published for World Book Day, Everdark has been reissued in a dyslexia friendly format, which is wonderful news for children like Smudge who struggle with reading and spelling, but everyone should read it. Everdark is a standalone story but part of Abi Elphinstone’s The Unmapped Chronicles series, which are also highly recommended.
Meg and Ash, two magpies, build a cosy nest in the tallest tree for their four bright blue eggs. But they then start to get worried ‘their nest/ Needed more stuff to make it the best.’ Written in rhyming verse, we stare in amazement at all the things the magpies collect to add to their nest – until there is no hope of seeing the nest, and we can only see the teetering heap of things that have been added on top! Disaster strikes as the tree gives way! Happily, all the animals around help to clear the mess – and create useful homes and shelters out of all the rubbish! A gentle, funny and very beautifully illustrated poem, with a little frisson of anxiety when the tree collapses, about waste and recycling – a good way to introduce children to the idea of recycling useful things. As ever with Emily Gravett – there is a great deal going on in all the illustrations – lots to see and talk about, all beautifully laid out across the double-page spreads. The end papers are particularly fun, containing adverts for some of the items in the book – and also an advert for libraries! I particularly liked the 4 ‘R’s of Recycling right at the back of the book! This will become a class and personal favourite for many people – children and adults alike – and could provide the basis for class projects on recycling, too.
October 2020 Book of the Month | This new episode in The Unmapped Chronicles series plunges readers head-first into heart-stopping adventure deep in a rain forest closely modelled on the Amazon, but thrillingly, magically different. Twins Fox and Fibber Petty-Squabble (fabulous names are one of the hallmarks of Elphinstone’s writing) find themselves in Jungledrop, one of the Unmapped Kingdoms, and in a vital race against time with the thoroughly villainous harpy Morg; for the first time in their eleven years, the two siblings will have to work together if they’re going to secure the future of two worlds. This is a hugely satisfying fantasy adventure filled with everything that makes the hearts of young readers sing. Readers who enjoy Jungledrop should look out for Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series or Dominique Valente’s sparkling Starfell books.
October 2020 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Award-winning Oliver Jeffers will capture the hearts and minds of children and adults alike with this story of a father and daughter making plans to build a world that will keep them safe in the future. Brimming with hope but not ignoring the possibilities that the world and what happens next in it will present challenges, What We’ll Build is founded in the mundane (almost!) as the father and his daughter assemble building tools including a hammer, saw and drill – and a pig! What they go on to build including a place to store love, a hole to hide in, a wall to keep enemies out and a gate to let them, a tunnel to anywhere, a road to the stars and much more and the reasons why they may need them it is summed up in the briefest of texts and Jeffers magical, vividly coloured story- telling illustrations. Inspired by becoming a father, What We’ll Build is a childhood classic that will be shared over and over again.
Beautifully told and illustrated this luminous allegorical adventure describes how one little girl’s dark and lonely existence is lit up by the arrival of ‘one spark’ in the form of a book – ‘faint and fading in the dark’. The spark’s embers glow and catch light and we see the girl follow them through an extraordinary world, brightened always by books, falling Alice in Wonderland-like from the sky, sprouting flowers and always shining in the dark. Enrolled at school, her heart’s delight, her story takes flight again from the pages of a book to transform another lonely girl’s life. There’s lots to wonder at, but the overall message is clear – the transforming, empowering, joy-bringing importance of books and education. The rhyming text carries readers along and the illustrations seem lit up from within. A book that deserves a wide audience and one that will start both dreams and discussions. For similar books take a look at Girl Power - Inspiring and Informative Books with a Feminist Edge
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | This gripping story of kidnap and escape burns with outrage at damage being done to the Amazon. Carlos’ mother is a member of the Special Forces Group of IBAMA, Brazil’s environment agency, which suddenly makes him a target for ruthless men illegally mining in the rainforest. Taken as a hostage to force his mother to turn a blind eye, he manages to escape and survive with the help of a boy his age, whose life has already been devastated by the men’s actions, even as the world burns around both of them. Powerful and absolutely gripping, this is both a terrific adventure story and a wake-up call for young readers about the urgent need to protect our world. Published by Barrington Stoke, it’s accessible to all readers including those reluctant, struggling or dyslexic.
Interest Age 5+ Reading Age 5 | Sally Gardner has a unique imagination and a special ability to create fresh, sparkling fairy tales for today. This new series introduces us to the utterly delightful little Tindims who, like the Borrowers, make their home out of things we humans – or Long Legs as they know us – throw away. ‘Rubbish today is treasure tomorrow’ is their motto, though from their floating home of Rubbish Island, they do worry just how many plastic bottles they can recycle. In this episode they are preparing for their Brightsea Festival, when Ethel B Dina is swept away. They save her of course – the Tindims are always going to find their happy endings. Children will love them and their recycled world, and these stories are beautifully accessible and perfectly illustrated by Lydia Corry. Printed in dyslexia-friendly font with pictures on every page and perfect for the reluctant reader.
Cookie is one of those characters who have the best intentions, but just can’t help getting into scrapes and mix ups, and readers will love her all the more for it. In this new adventure, her plans for a plastic-free birthday party are overtaken by circumstances and before we know it, she’s accidentally become best friends with Suzie Ashby, got a detention, upset her friend Jake, and handed over £25 to take part in Woodburn Primary’s very own F Factor, which turns out to be not what she expected at all. Cookie being Cookie, it all works out in the end and everyone, the reader included, has lots of fun along the way. Konnie Huq clearly remembers what it is to be a ten year old very well indeed and Cookie’s fast flowing, tangent-embracing, stream of consciousness narrative is a delight. Huq’s own black and white illustrations are the perfect complement to the text, giving us even clearer insight into what’s going on in Cookie’s head. A fast, fresh and very funny read.
A thrilling, ecological adventure that starts in Wales but mostly takes place in the Amazon jungle, My Name is River demonstrates just how connected we all are, to each other, and our planet. Dylan is devastated when he learns the family farm that he loves so much is going to be sold. He can’t imagine a life anywhere else. His only hope is to speak to the CEO of the company that’s buying the land and try and stop the sale, even though that means flying to Brazil. He’s helped by his friend Floyd, whose father and little brother are coincidentally also in Salvador. In the best fiction of course, coincidences are always significant, and the two boys discover some strange things going on at the company’s secret jungle laboratories, and that Floyd’s father is in real danger. With courage, conviction and the help of an equally brave and principled street kid, Dylan learns that you can save what matters, and that the world is both bigger and smaller than he’d realised. A satisfying, thoroughly engaging adventure, recommended for fans of Cloudburst or The Girl Who Stole an Elephant. You can find more books on this theme in our selection of Ecological and Environmental Fiction.
With a simple narrative and eye-catching spreads, this picture book delivers a powerful and timely message. Meera and her mum are enjoying a day at the seaside, when suddenly a giant approaches them – a huge, blue giant that comes out of the sea and is actually a wave. It has a message from the ocean: ‘We need your help.’ Sailing out, mother and daughter find the sea is full of rubbish and start to clear up. Next day, Meera goes back to the beach and piles up as much litter as she can. Friends join in, and friends of friends, and when everybody helps out: ‘even the biggest messes can be fixed.’ The final pages make suggestions for ways we can all cut down on plastic and while the story doesn’t dodge the size of the problem we face, it does provide hope and encouragement. With its rich, painterly seaside and deep-sea scenes, this is very beautiful, and very memorable. For more books with an eco theme visit our Green Reads collection