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Secrets and lies . . . secrets and lies . . . Fourteen-year-old twins, Kaine and Roxy, used to be close, but now they can hardly bear to be in the same room. Roxy hates the way her brother behaves - Kaine might be brilliant at football but he's always in trouble and cares nothing about his family. And Kaine despises the way his supposedly-perfect sister, dominates their parents in her ambition to reach Wimbledon. But the twins are both hiding dangerous secrets of their own, secrets that could destroy everything they are working towards - and both Roxy and Kaine's survival hangs precariously in the balance. Gripping, twisting, and real, this book is UNSTOPPABLE.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Another insightful and compassionate free verse novel from the queen of this increasingly admired form, this time exploring the transformative relationship between an abused runaway teenager and an elderly lady with dementia. Allison has grown up “stepping on eggshells” to circumvent her father’s violence. While she often wonders whether his behaviour was “all my fault”, one of his outbursts compels her to run away. With nowhere to go, she finds sanctuary in the house of an elderly woman called Marla. Marla has dementia and thinks Allison is Toffee, her best friend from childhood. After spending some time in Marla’s company, Allison decides to “stop correcting her… I like the idea of being sweet and hard, a girl with a name for people to chew on.” Moreover, in meeting Marla, Allison has found an unlikely kindred spirit: “I am not who I say I am. Marla isn’t who she thinks she is… Here, in this house, I am so much happier than I have ever been”. Returning the favour, Allison enriches Marla’s life – she listens, she indulges Marla’s desire to dance - while Marla’s carer and son show no real regard for her happiness, as if she’s beyond life, which makes Allison’s attentiveness all the more heart warming. Both vulnerable, they find strength through each other. With incredibly moving insight, Marla says of Allison’s dad, “none of it was about you. It was about him. It’s always about him. Surely you know that.” The writing is compellingly fluid, flowing freely between Allison’s precarious present and the tragic, abusive circumstances that sent her careering down this path. While fleeting, the impact of their time together is monumental, and I felt privileged to have spent time in their company.
January 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s love, friendship and challenging prejudice aplenty in this debut novel by a LGBTQ+ parenting expert. Introverted Izzy has just started Year 8 and is wildly excited when her favourite teacher announces auditions for a Christmas production of Guys and Dolls. Though shy, she’s come to love acting because on stage she “could be whoever I wanted.” And Izzy’s not the only member of her family who wants - and needs - to be who they really are, as she discovers when her dad tells the family he’s transgender and is about to begin transitioning. Though he gently explains, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s nothing dirty, I’m not ill”, Izzy’s older sister reacts angrily, her little brother accepts it in the same way he understands Spider Man and Peter Parker’s different identities, while Izzy feels quiet worry about how their lives will change. The family’s journey is honestly and sensitively portrayed as they endure hurtful prejudice alongside many heart-melting moments, such as the gorgeous scene in which the three siblings think-up their new name for Dad. This is at once an important support tool for children in similar situations, and a barrier-breaking, empathy-inducing story for all.
Flamingo Boy is vintage Michael Morpurgo, just the kind of story he tells so brilliantly. Eighteen-year old Vincent is ‘following the bend in the road’, letting life take him where it will, and finds himself in the wild and beautiful landscape of the Camargue. There he meets Kezia and Renzo and, as they nurse him through a fever, hears their life stories. Vincent hangs on every word and readers will too as Kezia describes the events that brought her and Renzo together, and the threats and dangers their families faced during the war. It’s a story of love, loss, renewal and reconciliation, vividly told and touching on important issues that matter to every one of us. Inspired by his own grandson, who is autistic, Renzo, the boy with a special connection to nature and animals, is one of Morpurgo’s most striking and vital characters.
Independent Reading Red 2 | Developed with and endorsed by literacy experts from the UCL Institute of Education, Reading Champions are high quality, visually attractive and engaging supplementary reading resources. They are uniquely designed specifically to support independent reading alongside guided reading in the classroom. With clear exterior labelling linked to Book Bands, children can be confident that the carefully levelled text will be accessible to them. Developing readers need to build their reading confidence and stamina by extended practise within levels to embed and secure their skills while experiencing an enjoyable reading opportunity. There are at least six books in each level to offer choice and variety and they are ideal for reading practice at home. Parents and carers will feel supported by the extremely helpful guidance notes in each book on how to share and discuss the book with their child and by the opportunities to extend their learning with some enjoyable activities linked to the subject matter. Most importantly of all these original stories are lively and relevant to children’s lives. They feature a broad range of genres and contemporary topics and both the quality text and the vibrant illustrations reflect genuine diversity, so that every child can identify with characters and settings.
Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 | Award-winning Neil Gaiman shows all his story telling skills in this gripping fusion of familiar fairy tales told in a dark-hearted version with some original characters. Especially a bold-hearted queen. Not far from where the queen lives, a princess is under the spell of an enchantress who has put a whole country to sleep. Despite it being the eve of her wedding day, the bold queen decides to take action. Slipping into her mail shirt she arms herself with her sword and sets off out of the palace accompanied by the three dwarves who will lead her through the tunnels…The dark magic, great courage and spell-binding imagination that power this story is perfectly realised in Chris Riddell’s awesome illustrations.
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.
November 2019 Debut of the Month | Mr Moose and Mr Brown first meet on an aeroplane flying from America to London. Mr Moose should be with his brother Monty, but absent-minded Monty has got on the wrong plane. Mr Brown, who is a famous fashion designer (as is the book’s author Paul Smith), offers to help his new friend find his missing brother. As they travel the world, Mr Moose helps Mr Brown with his fashion range, suggesting some very interesting garments – parkas for penguins, sneakers for cheetahs, scarves for giraffes. As they fit out an Alaskan bear for snow-shoes Mr Brown has an idea … It all ends with a happy reunion at a big catwalk (moosewalk?) show. It’s an engaging story and very strong on the fun and satisfaction that comes from designing things and from creative partnerships. Sam Usher paints some wonderful scenes, including a witty reimagining of Hopper’s Nighthawks, 1942.
Welcome to Nikki Maxwell's ADORKABLE world in the fourteenth installment of the bestselling Dork Diaries series - now with over 45 million books in print worldwide! Nikki Maxwell and her bandmates are looking forward to an AWESOME time on tour as the opening act for the world-famous Bad Boyz! The only downside? Nikki's frenemy, MacKenzie Hollister, has weaselled her way onto the tour as a social media guru... Nikki's determined to stay out of MacKenzie's way to avoid any drama, but then she learns that MacKenzie is going to be her roommate! TOTAL DISASTER! Will Nikki survive her dream tour as it quickly goes from AWESOME to AWFUL?!
This endearing character-driven treasure from the award-winning author of Dear Martin is a race-against-time romance replete with real-life hardship, class conflict and hope. Rico is a high school senior who works at Gas ‘n’ Go after class to keep her family afloat and then races home to look after her little brother so her mom can pick up extra shifts. In the intensity and exhaustion of this hamster-stuck-in-a-ball situation Rico’s lost sight of what she wants for her future, but selling a jackpot-winning lottery ticket gives her new focus: to find the little old lady she believes won the ticket. Then maybe – just maybe – she’ll be rewarded with a life-changing cut of the multi-million-dollar winnings. To this end, Rico reluctantly enlists the help of handsome, rich “Zan-the-Man”, a tech whizz who “has no idea what it’s like to constantly be on the brink of not having what you need to survive.” But, as Rico discovers, while Zan’s set to take over the throne of his family’s toilet paper empire, his dad has made sure he knows the value of money. Their opposite-side-of-the-tracks narrative plays out with heated banter and feverish frisson, with class conflict rearing its head at every turn as Rico struggles to accept Zan’s generosity just like her mom refuses to apply for government support. Quirkiness comes courtesy of interludes told from the points of views of inanimate objects - the winning ticket, a taxi, a stash of $100 dollar bills, Zan’s fancy bed sheets, a salt shaker – and the novel’s conclusion is as thrilling and life-affirming as it is unexpected. Readers will be left rooting for Rico and Zan to forge the futures they deserve.
J.K. Rowling has said how much she admires Jim Kay’s illustrations for the Harry Potter books and no wonder: he’s the perfect artist for her stories, bringing the people, creatures and natural world of her imagination to life in such a way that they seem to spill out from the pages. The Goblet of Fire is where things start to take a turn for the dark in the Harry Potter stories, and Kay is more than up to that. The book opens with a terrifying visit to the Riddle House, home to Lord Voldemort. Surrounded by brambles and thorns it’s a dark, malevolent presence on pages that are heavy with menace. It’s not all death and destruction of course – there are many comic images too: a wonderful representation of the heavily stamped letter Mrs Weasley sends to the Dursleys; fabulous paintings of Hogwarts witches and wizards refusing to be bound by their frames. And best of all, there are dramatic paintings of dragons, so realistic you can practically hear them snorting as you turn the pages. It’s glorious – a treat for Harry Potter fans old and new, and for anyone who appreciates great illustration.
Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling full-colour illustrations in this stunning new collector's edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. An extraordinary creative achievement by two extraordinary talents, Greenaway Medal winner Kay's inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling's classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide. Breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters - including Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum - await inside as Harry, now in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, faces death-defying tasks, dragons and Dark wizards ... This beautiful, deluxe edition features an opulent page size and intricate gold foiled line art by Jim Kay on a gem green cloth cover and slipcase; gilt edges on premium grade paper; head and tail bands and two ribbon markers. Each copy is accompanied by a rare pencil study by Jim Kay of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, printed on art paper and wrapped, creating a stunning souvenir for fans to keep and enjoy. This is the ultimate must-have edition for any Potter fan, collector or bibliophile.