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The inimitable Louis Sachar has done it again in this new Wayside School caper. Sachar totally gets Primary age readers - sees the world through their eyes, speaks to them in a wry voice that rings with understanding and funny details. What’s more, the bitesize chunks of plot (essentially inter-connected vignettes that form a satisfying whole) keep readers hungry for more, while the off-the-wall (yet believable) comic characters are guaranteed to induce gaggles of giggles. As a new year begins, Mrs Jewls’s pupils have a big bunch of stuff on their plates. An Ultimate Test looms ahead of them, while a Cloud of Doom looms overhead, growing bigger and more powerful each day. Back in class, the pupils are tasked with collecting one million nail clippings to get a sense of just how massive one million is, while Mrs Jewls’s paperclip appreciation is taken to crazy heights (“she marvelled at the magnificent metal masterpiece”) when she’s revealed to keep a secret stash of them in a locked room. Then there’s Mrs Surlaw the librarian, who has a GIANT stuffed walrus and arranges books according to their length, and the author’s cameo appearance as Louis the yard teacher (fun fact - the author actually used to be Louis the yard teacher). Perfectly complemented by Aleksei Bitskoff’s wittily detailed illustrations, this is clever, comic joy. You might also love The Worst Class in the World from Joanna Nadin or the Middle School series from James Patterson.
Life in a small Tennessee town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his smart but troubled best friend, Delaney, is second nature to Cash. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full scholarships to an elite school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his fears about abandoning his old life.
The fourth book in Zanib Mian's laugh-out-loud series, with amazing cartoon-style illustrations. Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid. Zanib Mian is a World Book Day author for 2021 with her Planet Omar title, Operation Kind. Have you read the first book in the series, Accidental Trouble Magnet? LoveReading4Kids called it 'irresistible reading!'
Generously illustrated by Timothy with greyscale images this book is the first novel from poet Camden – a performance poet known as Polar Bear, and prize winner of the CLiPPA poetry award. Beautifully written we are taken into Jay’s world – a ten-year-old who is uncool and mostly ignored. But when his dad just ups and leaves no-one will answer Jay’s questions. So, he makes up his own answers – and shares them with his classmates! This suddenly makes him one of the coolest kids in class! But little does he realise just how complicated it is to keep track of his stories, and who he might hurt, badly, along the way. For a book about the dangers of lying – with a moral heart at its centre – it is a very amusing, funny book which will keep readers enthralled to see if Jay and his friendships survive – or what he can do to save the day? A powerful look at the dangers of untruths – and no matter what, the reader roots for Jay as he is such a lovely character, well drawn and full of the chaotic emotions of pre-teens thrown into their often complex school relationships.
Number 11 in the Baby Aliens series, A Monster Ate My Packed Lunch sees Izzy and her class plus their long-suffering teachers heading off on a school activities trip. On the official agenda is raft-building, a nature walk and a ropes course, but, as we’ve come to expect, things turn out to be a lot more surprising, risky and dramatic. Together the gang has seen off Yetis, Demon Dinner Ladies and Vampire Rats, but can they cope with Camp Mentors’ monster? As always in this hugely popular series, the story is laugh-out-loud funny, the humour driven by Butchart’s exuberant imagination and perfectly captured child’s-eye-view of life. Packed with illustrations by Thomas Flintham, this is just right for newly confident readers.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A welcome addition to the stories about Hope Jones, a feisty 10 year old campaigner who has a mission to save the world! Written as a blog, in previous titles Hope has campaigned against the use of plastics and eating meat. This time, especially after her friend Selma collapses with an asthma attack, she is determined to get everyone to cut the use of their cars. Hope’s campaign doesn’t always go smoothy, even her parents are not completely supportive. But Hope is a great fighter and she finds friends, like Harry, who help her in all kinds of ways. Following Hope’s activism through her blog and the excellent illustrations that accompany it, is an inspiring journey for all. Fun to read this is also a book that can change minds and attitudes.
July 2021 Book of the Month | “Elizabeth North was one of the bravest and strongest women in the entire world. And I am going to tell you why”. Thus readers are introduced to How to Be Brave’s captivating story world in a manner that’s typical of its whimsical all-knowing narrative style. Adding to this, footnotes written in the amusing authorial voice are used to entertaining effect throughout the rip-roaring ride. To begin at the beginning, we are matter-of-factly informed that Elizabeth lived a charmed childhood that left to her muse “how much she loved her life. It was a strange thing for a child to think, but Elizabeth North was a strange child who lived a strange life.” Tragically, Elizabeth’s idyllic days are darkened by the unthinkable - both her parents die and she’s sent to The School of the Good Sisters, where an encounter with a rare duck - the Mallardus Amazonica - sets her on a path she will follow through her life. Skipping forward, we are introduced to Elizabeth’s daughter, Calla. Poor due to Elizabeth’s struggle to make ends meet as a scientist (and her lackadaisical approach to adulting), mother and daughter are dealt an unexpected hand when Elizabeth is invited to the Amazon to find the Mallardus Amazonica, resulting in Calla being sent to The School of the Good Sisters. The school’s old-fashioned quirks and cast of nuns and pupils are a delight. Edie is an especially fabulous creation - in her French-accented words, she’s “excellent at subterfuge and skulduggery”. When Calla uncovers shocking secrets, the adventure swells like the Amazon in rainy season. Given that “if there was a problem in Elizabeth’s life, Calla solved it,” that’s exactly what she sets out to do, in this case enlisting the help of her new friends and a Blessing of Nuns. What a marvellously rollicking story of a resourceful togetherness this is.
June 2021 Debut of the Month | Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Ace of Spades is an explosively exceptional debut. An incisively subversive, edge-of-your-seat thriller that takes the genre to jaw-droppingly unexpected extremes as it exposes horrific, deep-rooted institutionalised racism. The action centres around an elite high school in the white part of town. It has an all-white student population, except for our two principle characters - musician and scholarship student Devon, and privileged aspiring Yale alumnus Chiamaka. Devon (Von to his proud, hardworking Ma) can’t wear his hair in twists or cornrows here, and Chiamaka, of Nigerian and Italian heritage, feels compelled to hide her natural hair, and has adopted a “kill or be killed” stance - to achieve the success she’s set on, Chiamaka knows she’ll have to be tougher than tough. Devon and Chiamaka are sent reeling when an anonymous texter, Aces, starts revealing their deepest, darkest secrets, and it doesn’t take much to realise why they’re being targeted - the colour of their skin. And so a cruel cat-and-mouse game unfolds - two mice trapped in a destructive nightmare and a malicious cat motivated by racism, with homophobia weaponised too. While there are shocks aplenty (of the rare, ingeniously interwoven variety), the story is compellingly complex, with finely considered character exposition, and no simplified, clear-cut dichotomies drawn between who we can trust, and who should be top of our suspect list. The mounting tension is powerfully palpable, as is the embedded racism Devon and Chiamaka are subjected to - it runs deeper and wider than they (or readers) can possibly anticipate. Turns out, no one can be trusted; that there’s more than one cat in this hideous game. Oh, and there are romantic entanglements too, all of which means Ace of Spades delivers on all fronts - mystery, romance and tackling important issues in explosive style. What more could a reader ask for? *** Find a must-read letter from Faridah to her readers, attached to the extract.
June 2021 Book of the Month | There are some books you just don’t want to end, because you’re enjoying being with the characters so much. Something I Said is one of those books. It stars thirteen-year-old Carmichael Taylor, a young man who loves words as much as he hates geography, and who can never resist a bon mot, even when – as it frequently does – it lands him in trouble with his teachers. He’s offered a special chance to redeem himself with a role in the school talent show. It’s supposed to be opportunity to show off what he does best in a spoken word performance, instead it turns into an impromptu stand-up comedy show and goes both much better than he could have hoped, and much, much worse. Car is a terrific central character – honest, open, mixed-up and so funny - and his descriptions of his life, family and friends bring readers into the heart of his world. As with the best of this kind of fiction, by the end of the book Car knows more about himself than he does at its opening, and so do we. Readers who enjoy Car’s adventures will also like Worst. Holiday. Ever by Charlie Higson and should look out for Simon Mason’s Garvie Smith Mysteries too.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | When the Honey Bees from the orphanage take on the smart kids from the Brathelthwaite Boarding School at the Spindrift sports tournament, everyone knows there will be trouble! The two sides have always hated each other. But, when the children begin to disappear and the Whispering Wars break out, both side know they must put aside their differences and work together. Madcap and headlong, Jaclyn Moriarty’s deftly-told adventure is a roller-coaster ride for all those who have loved The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone.
The Time to...is a series of clear and well-illustrated books for very young children to share with their parents and carers. The books are inclusive, embracing all elements of society and offer an instructive and supportive resource for those caring for pre-schoolers. Time to Go to Nursery is a super introduction before that big first day. Often a big first day for adults too. A great book for discussion with fun illustrations involving counting bricks and food. An encouraging and colourful book that would excite and entice a child who might be a little unsure about what nursery involves. It covers everything involved in those first few days, such as meeting people, doing new things and being away from home in a really relaxed and encouraging way provoking discussion and allaying worries.
Good morning, class. Today we are going to learn about Earth Family. The latest in the Dr Xargle series! Learn all about Earth Families with Dr Xargle, our friendly alien teacher: brothers are Bothers, sisters are Sulkers, and the number of family members is always larger than the number of chairs at Christmas dinner...