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The books in this section cover a range of PSHE topics including bullying, family issues and racism. There are both fiction and non-fiction titles and cover age ranges from Toddler to Older Teen.
A poignant and poetic novel that gives voice to the oft-forgotten children imperiled to trafficking and slavery. Eleven-year-old Esra, storyteller Miran and six-year-old Isa have been enslaved by a gang. They’re locked in a room beneath the house and must tend to The Jungle. “The tattoo on my arm… says I am owned”, Esra explains, but she knows a different truth. She knows that no marks on her skin can say who she really is. “One day, I will be free”, she resolves even as she’s being beaten. There’s a chance to escape, but Miran is too injured to do so. “With our souls tied together, we won’t ever be apart”, he whispers before urging Esra to flee with Isa. While Miran is hospitalised and captured by the police, Esra struggles to keep up her spirits. Then she and Isa form a bond with a “strange” boy named Skeet and together they make a man from the mud of the river. When Riverman takes on a life of his own, he might just lead them to the freedom they’ve been seeking. I adored the author’s previous novel, the hauntingly moving The Bone Sparrow, and this more than confirms her majestic writing skills, and a style that will surely be adored by fans of David Almond. By turns harrowing, heart-wrenching, and magical, this is an incredibly powerful - and incredibly important - novel.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Lubna found the pebble on the beach the night she and her father arrived on a boat. Now Pebble is her only friend in the tent city where she lives. When Amir arrives, Lubna and Pebble befriend him and help him to talk again. This is a wise, gentle story about the possibility of kindness in even the bleakest situations.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. Full of life and potential, Stephen Lawrence was a boy with huge hopes for the future. Murdered in 1993, the book looks at prejudice, injustice and a family's fight to uncover the truth.
A special 25th anniversary edition of a modern classic, this is a tender, exuberant celebration of modern family life. | A glorious celebration of the love that a baby in the family generates is beautifully captured in Trish Cooke’s words and Helen Oxenbury’s pictures. There’s a ring at the door. Ding! Dong! One after another all the family come to visit and everyone of them wants to kiss and hug and squeeze that dear little baby because they all love him So Much. A classic that continues to delight now as much as it did when it was first published.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | A picture-book biography of celebrated poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) is known for her poems about real life. She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty-showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem.
September 2019 Debut of the Month | Jo is the kind of open, honest, amusing character readers immediately care about. Told through her wittily illustrated diary, Jo’s tale begins with a(nother) upheaval. She and her family have just moved to their new Chinese takeaway, but her hopes for a fresh start are immediately dashed when she sees there’s no living room, and she has to share a room with little sister Bonny while big brother Simon lives with their grandparents. Jo’s experience of feeling “doubly different” is poignantly portrayed – she’s an outsider at school because she’s Chinese, and an outsider among her wider Chinese family because her own family is dysfunctional, and because she doesn’t speak the same language. Thank goodness, then, that she forms a friendship with fellow outcast, Tina the Goth, who stands up to racist school bullies. But while Jo begins to feel hopeful about her future and takes steps towards realising her dream of working in fashion, she and Bonny are increasingly neglected by their parents, and then there’s Dad’s aggressive outbursts. The mid-1980s setting prompts many amusing references, from ra-ra skirts and Gary Kemp’s perm, to sending drawings to Take Hart and going to Wimpy for a Knickerbocker Glory - but above all this is a highly readable, highly empathetic, impactful novel about familial abuse and neglect, trying to fit in, and finding your way in the world. Based on her own experiences, author Sue Cheung’s big-hearted story will chime with readers of 12+ who know how it feels to fall between cracks and dream of a different life.
There’s a moral to this lively tale for everyone who lives on a small island. The setting is a farm run by animals. At first, all is good: the animals work hard and are friends, free ‘to live and work where they chose’. But trouble is brewing. The geese, who reside with the ducks on a lush little island, start to resent the other animals. Their grumbling gets worse until they decide that the best thing for them to do is to leave the rest of the farm and live on their own. Despite the misgivings of the ducks, the geese destroy the footbridge to the farm. 48% of readers may not be surprised to learn that things don’t work out as the geese expect, but all readers will be glad that by the end of the book the bridge has been rebuilt. Animal farms traditionally have lessons for readers – Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury for example – and this one is delivered with impact and charm. A book to get everyone talking, but to leave them smiling.
In a nutshell: friendship and understanding can change the world Two young people under extraordinary pressure are at the heart of Siobhan Curham’s compassionate, affecting and ultimately uplifting novel. Hafiz is a refugee newly arrived in Britain after two terrifying years on the road. His parents are still in Syria. Stevie’s mother is suffering with depression, spending most of her time asleep and relying on her daughter for everything. Money is tight and Stevie struggles to keep her predicament a secret from school and classmates. Brought together by accident the two become friends, bonding as much over a shared love of strong coffee and arcade claw machines as through their joint loneliness and isolation. Both their lives are changed as a result. Tender and convincing, the story demonstrates that with friendship, unity and humanity there’s hope even in the most extreme circumstances. ~ Andrea Reece
A romantic, searing and relevant debut about Islamophobia and how it affects the normal life of a teenage girl. Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable...She's also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn't want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they? Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . . Perfect for fans of Annabel Pitcher, When Dimple Met Rishi and The Hate U Give.
Nominated for the CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2019 | A romantic and relevant debut about Islamophobia and how it affects the normal life of a teenage girl. Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable . . . She's also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn't want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they? Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | This accomplished second YA novel stems from a very personal place for acclaimed author and commentator Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant). Victim himself of a racist attack and resorting to a boxing gym to improve his own self-defence lends unmistakable authenticity to Sunny’s story. He may have had to turn to a fellow author and boxer for advice on the actual match scenes but everything else comes from the heart and it shows. Every character and situation rings true. Sunny already had to cope with a toxic relationship with his terminally ill father and social isolation after a move to Bristol (and how refreshing to have a gritty urban story set other than in London) when he becomes a victim of an unprovoked attack which threatens to demolish any sense of self-worth. Against all his principles and family objections he finds his community in a boxing club, battling inner demons as well as opponents in the ring with an inspiring (female) mentor and coach. Has he found a soul mate there as well or will rising racial tensions and far right radicalisation scupper that too? Stylishly told in ten chapters mixing the narrative of the ten rounds of the match between Sunny and his erstwhile best friend Keir and flashbacks of what brought them to this point, this is a nuanced, character-led and ultimately life affirming and important story for our times.
November 2016 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Race against time | Racing hearts | The difference a day makes | Intense tale of fate, fraught families and migrant lives told over the twelve hour period in which a teenage girl falls madly in love while desperately seeking to save her family from deportation. Natasha has been making solitary pilgrimages to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office for some time, but time has all but run out. On this morning’s last ditch visit the worst is confirmed: she and her family must return to Jamaica in ten hours. “What about college?” she pleads. “Do you have any idea what it’s like not to fit in anywhere?” While she's angered by the officer’s naïve assumption that her life will turn out irie in Jamaica, he offers Natasha a lifeline when he sets up a meeting with a top attorney, and so she sets off across New York to meet him. Meanwhile, Daniel’s story begins to unfold. Born in the US to South Korean migrants, Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale when he’s smitten by a girl he happens to see. That girl is Natasha, and their attraction is mutual, and strong. But Natasha believes in science, not in “unprovable” things like love, though she can’t deny her rapidly intensifying feelings for Daniel. But it’s not long before Natasha has to meet the lawyer, and Daniel has his interview and so they must part. Then a combination of snap decisions and chance throws them back together, and they fall deeper in love as time ticks down. I adored the author’s debut, Everything, Everything, and this confirms her status as a writer of considerable talents. Expansively thought-provoking, incisively told and breathtakingly smart on love, identity and the shifting relationships between young adults and their parents, this is YA at its finest, and its exploration of migrant experiences (“for most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith”) is insightful and timely. ~ Joanne Owen