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Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2016. | Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Year 2015 Guardian Prize winning author Jenny Valentine’s long-awaited new novel is clever, beautifully written, full of ideas. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Iris: lonely and desperately unhappy, she finds self-expression and release through starting fires. Her vain, shallow mother, one of the least sympathetic fictional characters ever, has always told Iris that her father abandoned them when she was a little girl. This is a lie and he has in fact been searching for his daughter all her life. They are reunited, but only because her father is dying. The weeks they have together are spent learning about each other – they share a love of art for example, something that Iris’s father has been able to indulge. Just as the beauty and truth of her father’s paintings outweigh any monetary value, so Iris’s love and growing understanding transcends their short time together. Daring to examine what is really important, this original novel is full of insight and intelligence.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award 2017 - Best Story | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, Children's Book category, 2016 | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2016. January 2016 Debut of the Month This clever, touching time travel adventure owes as much to The Railway Children as it does to Back to the Future! Al (for Albert, after Einstein) Chaudhury’s dad is dead but – and here’s where it gets really interesting – a physicist, he’d already been experimenting with time travel and, realising what is going to happen, left instructions enabling his son to go back in time and prevent the childhood accident that will ultimately kill him. Huge congratulations to Ross Welford for observing all the rules of time travel (never easy and he manages a sly dig at Dr Who!) and constructing a terrific adventure that puts family relationships, particularly male ones, at its heart. ~ Andrea Reece ***Download a special discussion pack to help you get more out of this book. The Costa Judges said: “A highly accomplished debut, genuinely enjoyable for both a child reading independently and an adult reading with a child.”
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Award winning author partners Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre head north for their latest adventure. Shen the cabin boy is abandoned by his shipmates when their ship is stranded in the ice. He’s completely alone, except for 64 little pugs, part of the ship’s cargo! He soon teams up with Shika, a girl desperately seeking dogs to pull her grandpa’s sled in the Race to the Top of the World, a once in a lifetime contest to win your heart’s desire. The eccentric competitors mean there’s something of the Wacky Races about all of this, but amongst the crazy – and very entertaining -scenes there are surprising notes of poignancy, as well as some lovely descriptions of the True Winter, fifty types of snow and all.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Gill Lewis writes outstanding animal stories, and Gorilla Dawn is very good indeed. The setting is the forests of the Congo, home to the great lowland gorilla but also to rebel soldiers, who hide out there after attacks on local villages. Imara is just a child, but regarded as a talisman by the Black Mambas, one of the rebel groups. Their leader believes her to be a Spirit Child with magical powers to protect his men. It’s a frightening life and Imara has withdrawn into herself for protection. The arrival in camp of a baby gorilla taken to be sold into captivity breaks down her defences and she determines to save it. Imara’s story is terrible and Lewis chooses to reveal it in full only when Imara is safe. She allows us to feel hope for the gorillas too while explaining to her readers all the dangers they face. Above all, this story tells children that we all share the world, that if we lose our love of it, we lose our souls. A thrilling story which will sweep readers along, this is one of the best books of the year. ~ Andrea Reece A note from Gill Lewis: “The world is at our fingertips…or so it seems. We use our mobile phones and computers to connect with people far across the globe. And yet, they also connect our fate to that of the gorilla. The electronic devices we use every day contain rare minerals, many of which are sourced within the forests of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, home of the eastern lowland gorilla. I wanted to tell a story, through the eyes of two children who have been swept into the conflict, that questions our responsibility as consumers of electronic goods; responsibility to insist on fair trade and conflict free minerals, and to actively protect our natural world.”
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | August 2016 Book of the Month | Set in a shining future world, where trains rumble not just through towns and countryside but across whole galaxies, Philip Reeve’s new novel drenches its readers with extraordinary scenes, images and ideas. Zen Starling is a petty thief; offered the chance of a brand new life in return for carrying out one small job of course he accepts, and is immediately caught up in a war that could destroy his entire world. Beautifully written, brilliantly inventive, this gripping adventure, a combination of sci-fi utopia, conspiracy thriller and romance, will set hearts racing. Thoughtful readers prepared to take their time will find echoes of many other great works of fiction, all of which add to Railhead’s richness. And who could resist the trains – ‘the old, wise trains of the Network, barracuda-beautiful, dreaming their dreams of speed and distance as they raced from world to world’? It will turn us all into railheads.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America's Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.
Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 | Shortlisted for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2016 | Text, illustration and design all combine to make this an outstanding picture book. Mouse is cross, there’s a bear – a polar bear – on his chair, he won’t move and ‘There isn’t any room to spare. We do not make a happy pair’. The bear is apparently oblivious to Mouse and his growing rage, though readers will notice him take an occasional sly peek at his companion, deftly illustrated in just one line of eyebrow. Collins’s illustrations also brilliantly capture Mouse’s changing moods, from anger through to resignation. The text is a joy to read, a series of funny statements constructed – Dr Seuss-like – around words that rhyme with chair. A sequel – There’s a Mouse in My House – must follow. This superb picture book is set to become a classic.
Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2017 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | This moving story of looked-after children describes the difficulties they face, but is nonetheless uplifting. Ira and her little brother Zac live in Skilly House, what Tracy Beaker would call a dumping ground. There are things they like about it including the staff, kindly Hortense and Silas who was in care himself, though not stern Mrs Clark. They love the garden, with its huge tree. Carved into the trunk is a name, Glenda Hyacinth, 1947. Ira decides Glenda must be a ghost (the story is set in the late 1980s) and imagines she sees her playing in the garden. Holiday visits to a lady in the country lead to a permanent home, but Ira is sad to leave Skilly House, especially as by then she’s learned something surprising about Glenda. Children will be caught up in Ira and Zac’s story from the first page, and will understand them perfectly by the last. Subtle and beautifully told this will appeal to readers who have enjoyed The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 | Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016 | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heart-rending beauty, and featuring Selznick's most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story. In The Marvels, Selznick crafts another remarkable artistic and bookmaking achievement that weaves together two seemingly unrelated stories-one in words, the other in pictures-with spellbinding synergy. Guardian children’s fiction prize 2016 judge David Almond: “Selznick is an original, a creator of books that are engrossing, mind-bending, and are also beautiful objects. The Marvels shows what is happening and what is possible in the extraordinarily inventive world of children’s literature today.”
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | September 2016 Book of the Month Wolves, wildness and freedom are at the heart of this thrilling story. Wolf wilders are employed to reintroduce wolves unfortunate enough to be brought up as pets in rich households back into the wild, and they’re easy to spot: they’ll be missing a piece of finger, the lobe of an ear, a toe or two. Feo and her mother are wolf wilders, content deep in the forest, at least until the arrival of General Rakov and the imperial army. Rakov treats their wolves with the same brutal contempt he shows to the peasants, and despite her reclusiveness, Feo finds herself fighting alongside her neighbours for what is right. ‘Wolves, like children, are not born to lead calm lives’ we are told and this a marvellous adventure, original, beautifully written, and full of scenes and ideas that will excite and inspire young readers. ~ Andrea Reece A note from Katherine Rundell …My father is a great storyteller. When we were very young he left for work at 7 a.m., so he used to wake us up at 6 a.m. and tell us stories from history: the World Wars, the slave trade and the Russian revolution. (Sometimes my understanding of the stories in my life blurred, and when I picture William Wilberforce he will always look like Wilbur, the mouse in Brambly Hedge.) My father’s picture of Russia was one of deep snow and rich food, and of revolutionaries fighting, with very mixed success, for fairness. There would always be a pair of children at the centre of the stories – who looked, coincidentally, very like my brother and me – two children who joined the fight with both fists. My dad’s stories made us feel taller, and hungrier: more capable of changing the world.The Wolf Wilder is a book built by those early stories: though it’s less a history than a fairy-tale kind of adventure informed by history. I wanted to write a book that was a little darker than the last, and a little wilder. I wanted to write about different kinds of bravery, with, I hope, an edge of danger. Most of all, I wanted to write a story about a child learning to trust other people: about a child discovering that the world is huge, and full of spectacular people. Feo, more than any other character I’ve written, is how I felt as a child: awkward and wary, but hoping always for friendship and for snow. The plot was made up of things I’ve seen or discovered and loved. The central city of the book is St Petersburg because my grandfather lived there in the years before his death, on the banks of the Fontanka canal, in the building in which (he used to claim) Tchaikovsky wrote The Nutcracker. My grandfather was so obviously and resolutely English that KGB spies used to tail him to church, convinced he was MI5. There was a small ballroom in which, as a teenager, I danced (with an immense lack of grace). So there is dancing in this book, both good and bad, and the great golden domes of St Petersburg. The story is set in the snow because snow has a life of its own: I spent one white winter in rural Scotland, in an old unoccupied shooting lodge. I went weeks without seeing another human. When the pipes froze, I boiled snow for tea. I lit fires, read books, ate icicles and mussels from the lake, and tinned meat. When the worst storms of that year came, I was rescued by an army truck and sent home. I learnt a lot about the different varieties of cold you can be. Later, I read about a Russian recluse who, in the 1970s, used to run barefoot for days through snow with elks slung over his back, and realised I was only a novice at the cold. But I have rarely in my life been so happy. The wilding of animals is a real thing: there is a programme in Zimbabwe, not far from where I spent part of my childhood, where tame lions are taught to feed themselves. And in Yellowstone park they are trying to coax wolves back into the wild. Wolves are the heroes of this book because I think wolves, more than any other animal, are electric. I met a mostly tame one on a cold day in Wales. They really do look nothing like dogs: their shoulders are more muscular and their eyes sharper. They radiate intelligence. They deserve our respect. There are many stories about wolves already, but I think they will always deserve a few more.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Julia Eccleshare's Debut of the Month, April 2016 Award-winning Emily Gravett’s stunning picture book is a charming, witty and moral tale about the perils of making the world look too spick and span. Deep in the forest lives a badger called Pete with a mania for tidying up. Pete’s tidies up the leaves as they fall from the trees, then he tidies up the trees themselves. When that causes a flood he sets too to deal with the mud. Tidying up mud leads to putting down concrete. But then, how can Pete ever get back into his own home? Pete realises he must put everything back! Emily Gravett’s woodland folk are delightful and the world of nature that she creates for them to live in is incredibly appealing. Good lessons will be learnt from Tidy! ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for April 2016 Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley Tidy by Emily Gravett Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer by Alexander McCall Smith Slug Needs a Hug by Jeanne Willis There's a Moose on the Loose by Lucy Feather Nature's Day: Out and About by Kay Maguire
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award 2017 - Books for Younger Children | Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Syd and Grandad’s tropical adventure tells a much bigger story and conveys an important message about loss and love. Grandad’s house is at the bottom of Syd’s garden and Syd can go round any time he wants. One day Grandad isn’t in any of his usual places and Syd finds him in the attic. There’s a big metal door at one end, and through it a ship, ready to take Grandad and Syd to a faraway island. Grandad doesn’t need his stick on the island and is very much at home with the cheery parrots and bright flowers. He decides to stay behind, though he’ll miss Syd very much. Simply told and beautifully illustrated this is a very special book. ~ Andrea Reece
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award With sharp wit, adorable illustrations, and hysterical twists galore, this debut picture book asks - what do you think happened to the hungry lion's friends?
Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award | From the author of Lovereading4kids favourite We Are All Made of Molecules, this is another book that grips from the first chapter, a heart-breaking story that will nonetheless make readers laugh and leave them feeling better about the world. Henry’s life is changed for ever by ‘IT’, a terrible event that we learn about through the journal his psychologist encourages him to keep, and which describes, gradually and in surprising ways, how through new friendships and the Global Wrestling Foundation, he finds ways to cope. Nielsen writes about the heaviest subjects with the lightest of touches: here it’s suicide, bullying, breakdown but so subtly described, the balance between tragedy and humour so carefully managed, that this is a truly uplifting, even happy read.
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award Before meeting his new foster brother, Jack understands what he and his family are ‘getting into’. Fourteen-year-old Joseph almost killed a teacher, and he has a three-month-old daughter, Jupiter, whom he’s never seen. But from the outset, when Joseph storms off the school bus and Jack joins him on the freezing two mile walk, we know he’s found a friend and ally. We know Jack ‘has his back’. At first Joseph won’t be touched, barely speaks and is nervous of milking the cows on Jack’s farm but, as Jack comments, “you can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him”, and the cows love Joseph. Slowly-slowly, Joseph opens up and begins to smile - Jack counts each one of them – but he’s haunted by memories of the girl he loved, Jupiter’s mother, and by her tragic death. Joseph can’t get Jupiter out of his mind either, and so his nightly sky-search for her planetary namesake becomes a heartrending real-world search; he has to find his baby daughter. While further loss lies ahead, this is, ultimately, a remarkable read-in-one-sitting story of friendship, love and the glow of hope that comes from second chances and new life. Joseph’s tragic tale will break your heart, but the tenderness that flows from this flawlessly compact novel will also piece it back together. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Shortlisted for the Children's category of the Books are My Bag Readers Awards 2016 | Shortlisted for the English Picture Book Award 2016 | Longlisted for the inaugural Klaus Flugge Prize, an important new illustration prize for children's books | Winner of the Illustrated category of The Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2016. March 2016 Debut of the Month A young bear cub finds a piano in the forest and after a first hesitant ‘PLONK’, he returns to it every day for years until he has grown strong, and the sounds that he makes on the piano are melodic and beautiful. The other bears love listening to him but one day a girl and her father overhear his concert and persuade him to go with them to the city and play in front of thousands. Swapping the tranquillity of the forest for the bright lights of Broadway brings the bear fame, but he misses his friends and decides to return to play again for the most important audience of all. It’s a beautiful story, and illustrates perfectly the effect of music on performer and audience. Litchfield’s illustrations are very special indeed: he plays beautifully with light and shade, in both the forest and concert hall scenes, to create atmosphere and to illuminate his hero and his message. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Winner for the 2017 Klaus Flugge Prize | Winner of the UKLA 2017 Book Award | Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 and awarded the Amnesty CILIP Honour | A powerful picturebook which teacher judges described as “taking children to new experiences outside their own”. What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but also great hope.