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Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | With all the invention, originality and insight that is typical of his writing for children, Frank Cottrell Boyce takes the sad story of Laika, the first living creature to orbit Earth, and uses it as inspiration for a story about the importance of home. As ever, it’s both brilliantly funny and extraordinarily moving. Prez is living with a temporary foster family when he opens the door to Sputnik. Prez sees an alien – in a kilt – everyone else sees a dog. Over the course of the summer Prez and Sputnik have some amazing adventures and break a lot of laws, including some of the laws of physics, but in the process they save the world, and reunite Prez with his grandfather. As wild as a cartoon strip, this wonderful story pinpoints all the best things about life on Earth. No-one writes like Frank Cottrell Boyce, and readers who enjoy this will also love his books Cosmic and The Astounding Broccoli Boy. Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord books are also very funny, and just as good on human nature as is My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons.
Interest Age 9+ Reading Age 8 | Set in a future world in which kids risk their lives for real playing an online fantasy game, Virus is a nerve-tingling combination of science-fiction and martial arts extravaganza. Scott knows that playing Virtual Kombat will put his life in danger, but the only way to destroy the game is from the inside, and he really wants to avenge the death of his friend. In this he’s helped by a group of techno-hackers, but when it comes to the crunch, his tae kwon do skills mean he’s on his own against powerful opponents. Chris Bradford is an expert at keeping the tension high and this is page-turning, super-readable adventure.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2018 | Master story-teller Philip Pullman is as brilliantly creative in this gripping, multi-narrative graphic novel story as ever. In an adventure which both pays homage to the best-traditions of the past and dashes into the future so enabling it to give an interesting commentary on our own time, Pullman’s lively cast of characters travel through time and place. At the centre of the adventure is a mysterious ghost ship, the Mary Alice, crewed by men from all times including ancient Rome, the seventeenth century and the present. But someone in the present is desperate to get their hands on the boat and will stop at nothing to do so. When contemporary teenager Serena falls from the family yacht she is rescued by crew member John Blake. How can he evade the present day evil and return her safely to her family? Pullman’s brevity and storytelling power are superbly realised in Fred Fordham’s atmospheric and equally taut illustrations. With the sea at the heart of them all, they conjure up the different times and places of the several narratives and define the characters in them. The result is a delight of a book for readers of all ages. Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for June 2018: Mariella, Queen of the Skies by Eoin Colfer Opposites by Roald Dahl 1, 2, 3 by Roald Dahl The Day War Came by Nicola Davies The Hippo at the End of the Hall by Helen Cooper The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman Philip Pullman says: “I wanted to do this because I love the comic form. You can do things in comics with great economy, swiftness, force and effect, and I just wanted to use those potentialities.”
Pounding hot on the clawed heels of its primeval predecessor, this second installment of the rip-roaring The Extinction Trials sequence sees Lincoln and Stormchaser face another deadly mission to save humankind from destruction at the hands of three killer species. Since they managed to survive the first grueling trial on Piloria, who better to return to test out a new virus that could allow humans to resettle there? The action is every bit as satisfyingly high-stakes as book one, with the introduction of new characters and further family revelations providing extra intrigue. Oh, and there are NEW DINOSAURS too! What a killer concept this series is, and executed with all the in-your-face action and crash, bang wallop “what if?” dilemmas fans of fast-paced, fiercely-written fiction could wish for.
Fantastic, funny and weirdly wonderful, with beautifully apt illustrations by Mark Beech. Johnny can see and talk to the dead, not scary zombie ghostly dead people, just rather ordinary dead people who don’t want anyone to build on their cemetery. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ was first published in 1993, yet is still bang up to date in terms of humour, wit, and observations. Terry Pratchett was wonderfully clever at pointing out just how absurd humans can be sometimes. He takes the dead, from the First World War Blackbury Pals, to former magician Mr Vicenti and brings them to life, well, perhaps to life isn’t quite the best way to describe it, but he certainly makes them accessible and approachable. Terry Pratchett makes me laugh, most importantly he makes me think, and I absolutely adore his books. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ walks into ghostly graveyards and makes them interesting, fascinating places, full of information that we really shouldn’t forget, or demolish and build over!
May 2018 Book of the Month How To Bee is unlike any story I have ever read. The narrative voice is heartfelt and the author uses a mild form of dialect to bring both her characters and setting to life. Seen through the eyes of eight year old Peony, we see great hardship and brutality but also friendship, courage and determination. This is at times a harsh and truthful read, tackling difficult issues of environment, poverty and abuse, unafraid to hide the cruelty and yet finding within the beauty of nature, family and what really matters. It's a story about standing true to your dreams, and that with hard work, love and kindness we can help those dreams come true. It is also a reminder of how precious our natural world is and how we must do all we can to protect it for both us and future generations. Peony is a pest who dreams of becoming a Bee. It's a simple life centred on the trees and family. In a world where pesticides have destroyed the bee population it now falls to children like Peony to save the harvest from pests and other dangers that may destroy their precious produce. The best workers who are light and quick become hand-pollinators. Armed with feather wands they climb from tree to tree pollinating the flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit. Peony lives on the farm with her sister Magnolia and Gramps. Her Ma lives and works in the city, coming home every now and then with cash and fresh bruises. At eight years old Peony can't understand why she doesn't stay, they live a simple life but they have everything they need. But Ma thinks Peony would be better off working in the city for cash so they can save and build a better future. Strong willed and courageous, Peony is determined to remain in the place she loves and earn her stripes to work as a Bee on the farm. How To Bee shows that even the smallest person can make a big difference in a challenging world. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
Hot on the heels of Wonder Woman, and timely with Black Panther’s rapturous big screen release, this kick-ass superhero adventure abounds in extravagant Good versus Evil battles and high-octane action. In a society that’s experienced dystopian destruction, the Renegades represent goodness to most people. While the Anarchists had “cared only for change”, the super-powered Renegades emerged from the Age of Anarchy as harbingers of justice and hope. But Nova isn’t most people. Her uncle was the revolutionary leader Ace Anarchy. “Maybe Ace was really a villain. Or maybe he was a visionary. Maybe there’s not much of a difference,” Nova muses but, either way, she has reason to hate the Renegades, and she’s set on revenge. But, as she gets in deeper, even raw revenge turns out to be anything but simple. Her journey is exhilaratingly entertaining and evoked in awesome detail, with plenty of plot twists and personal dilemmas to keep the pulse racing and the pages turning.
April 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: a brief and enthralling time-bending mystery | Maisie Day is ten years old and should be celebrating her birthday but something very odd has happened: not only has her family disappeared, but her house seems to be floating in an endless – and encroaching – black void. It’s hard to comprehend, but Maisie is a science genius, already studying for a degree in physics at the Open University. At the same time that she works out she’s on the edge of a black hole she makes contact with her teenage sister, Lily, the only person who can help her. In a story that explores really big ideas, Christopher Edge also finds time and space to describe one particular family’s relationships, and their experience of terrible loss. Mind-boggling and heart-breaking, the story nonetheless finishes in a moment of hope and simple happiness that everyone will understand. ~ Andrea Reece
In a Nutshell: Martian odyssey meets classic quest Ingeniously inventive, involving and wildly witty, this thrilling finale of the Lora Trilogy is sci-fi, but not as you know it… Having suffered and survived the perils of the inhospitable Martian prairie, Lora and Peter must find the Ancient Heart of Mars. But, as Toaster, Lora’s walking, talking sunbed, remarks, “Going to meet these so-called Ancient Ones might be the most hazardous adventure we have embarked on yet.” Toaster’s certainly right on that front, and he might also hold the key to saving them. This flamboyant fusion of science fiction and classic adventure contains more sparks and surprises than a box of fireworks. It’s a rousing epic underpinned by playfulness, and a drive to do the right thing in even the most difficult of circumstances. It’s also a genuine, 100%-certified crossover that will delight a vast spectrum of readers. ~ Joanne Owen
A story about identity, courage and searching for the truth of who you are. This book made me cry, it made me feel, it made me think and it made me want to read on. Emma Young brings us a whole new take on the issue of identity and body image. The idea of waking up with a completely different body was incredibly thought provoking, from looking at a different face in the mirror to discovering new freckles, the shape of your knuckles and the fall of your hair. After years of being trapped in a body slowly dying of a nerve disease, Rosa is offered an experimental brain transplant and given the chance to live. Yet as she struggles to come to terms with her new body she begins to question who she is and if she even deserves this healthy, able body when the girl who it belonged to is dead. She is told very little about her donor Sylvia, yet she knows she was young, pretty and a girl who seemingly had everything to live for and yet whose body has given her, Rosa, the chance to live. Soon Rosa becomes obsessed with finding out more about Sylvia and who she was. As Rosa embarks on a journey to discover who Sylvia was, can she find a way to rediscover and accept herself? ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. Perfect for fans of Extraordinary Means, Faceless and The Art of Being Normal.
In a Nutshell: Time-travel, tyranny and tension This suspenseful sequel to Movers takes readers on an exhilarating time-travel trip as Patrick tries to return to his own time to save his family’s fate. In 2083, overcrowded and ailing planet Earth is home to two types of people, Movers and Non-Movers, and Movers like Pat possess the ability to bring their Shadow – a person from the future to whom they’re connected – to their own time. But Pat has been has been lurched forward 300 years into an unfamiliar future by Bo, his own Shadow. On finding himself in 2383, Pat is tormented by fears for his family: “anything could have happened to the people I love. It’s the not-knowing that’s driving me crazy”. Now he and Bo are occupying the same time “neither of us can move the other”, yet Pat must return to his family, and so they set off on a terrifying quest through a dangerous and dynamically-depicted dystopian world. While the concept is pretty complex, the writing is clear and thrillingly fast-paced, and this comes recommended for younger teen fans of sci-fi and dystopian fiction. ~ Joanne Owen