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All the books we feature as Books of the Month on LoveReading4Schools are selected because we think they deserve to stand out from the crowd. We select a few each month across the key stages.
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So beautiful, so powerfully moving, the ever-inventive Laura Dockrill has done it again with The Dream House - an incredibly honest, child-centred story about a boy’s struggle with terrible grief (and guilt) after losing his dad. Beautifully presented with Gwen Millward’s soft, evocative, powerful illustrations - including Rex’s sketchbook drawings that provide poignant insights to his pain - this has all the marks of a future classic. Rex doesn’t talk much now his dad’s gone, and he’s gone to stay with his godfather Sparky, his dad’s best friend since childhood - “Mum said it would be good for me here; Sparky would take care of me so I could get some peace and ‘feel better’. To give her space while she dealt with what needed to be dealt with. But it was also because she couldn’t deal with me.” Rex is worried because drawing “doesn’t make me feel good like it used to”. Nothing is the same, and he’s terrified of returning to the Dream House, a magical place created just for him. A magical place that’s filled with his dad. But little by little, with Sparky’s sensitive support (what a guy; his tenderness is sublime), and after talking to the boy next door, Rex is able to return to the Dream House, able to begin his long journey back to the world, to a life without Dad, but a world in which Dad is remembered and cherished, in the soothing knowledge that he doesn’t have to carry the heavy burden of grief alone.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2021 | September 2021 Book of the Month | Award-winning author Philip Reeve is gifted at creating alternative worlds which feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new and original. The watery landscape of the Autumn Isles does just that providing the backdrop for a gutsy and gusty story of powerful old magic, new-fangled science and the perennial battle for the critical balance of power between land and the sea. It is the setting for a roller coaster of a story with the survival of orphaned Utterly Dark, one of the most charming and feisty young heroines, at its heart. Washed up on the shore of the Autumn Isles, Utterly is rescued and adopted by Andrew Dark, the Watcher of Wildsea, whose job it is to keep the islands safe from the many dangers forces that threaten the land, in particular, the terrifying Gorm, a fearful sea dwelling creature who threatens the life of the Islanders. When her guardian drowns in curious circumstances, Utterly must maintain the watch until a new Watcher arrives. But the new Watcher is sceptical of the old magic until his rash actions reveal the full power of the Gorm with almost fatal results. Can Utterly set the watery world of her home to rights?
Written by Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin in consultation with British Museum experts, A History of the World in 25 Cities is a wonderful concept that’s been dazzlingly executed through exquisite design as Libby Vander Ploeg’s luminously detailed illustrations draw the eye and spark the mind. Presented as a large format hardback, and resplendent with a striking neon cover, this mighty feat takes young readers on a magnificent journey around the world’s most fascinating cities, offering an exhilarating window into history and humankind. “Cities are full of possibilities. They are where big ideas are born, because they welcome people from far and wide.” So explains the lively, thought-provoking introduction before readers are welcomed to embark on a thrilling voyage of discovery through 25 cities, among them Jericho in 8500 BCE, ancient Athens and Rome, rain-forested Benin in the 1500s, seventeenth-century Delhi, eighteenth-century Paris, 1930s New York, and modern-day Tokyo. Each city is presented with fabulous maps and a feast of fascinating facts, with the book rounding off with a look ahead to cities of tomorrow. What a glorious gift-that-keeps-giving this will make for 7+-year-olds who are keen to learn more about the world.
Find Strength, Stay Hopeful and Get to Grips With Grief | The death of a parent, sibling or friend is one of the most traumatic experiences for a child and it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it. In this honest, comforting and strength-building guide, children will be able to look toward the future with hope.
From the team which brought you the critically acclaimed If All the World Were… we have an inspirational story about finding your voice, both literally and metaphorically. The lyrical text and expressive images capture the intense anxiety of the shy protagonist who never speaks in school and also the transformative power of a good teacher. The illustrations show us the colour, vivacity and joy which Miss Flotsam brings to the classroom and the creativity which she inspires. Getting the child engaged in responding to poetry is the first step into unlocking her feelings and revealing what she needs to say. Gradually and cleverly building confidence and ensuring a nurturing atmosphere in the classroom, Miss Flotsam supports the child until she is ready to read her words aloud. The visual representation of creativity is so well done and is a perfect match for the carefully considered words. This lovely story has a powerful message of resilience, courage and determination and will encourage all children to unlock their potential.
August 2021 Book of the Month | Edie is still grieving for her mother, killed a year earlier in a horrible accident, when she discovers a secret note her mother left for her. It states that the ‘accident’ was anything but, and that this is the first in a trail of clues she has left for her daughter, explaining what it was she was investigating, and why it got her killed. The tension heightens as Edie solves the clues, putting herself in more and more danger. The people who arranged her mother’s murder are utterly ruthless while Edie has very few she can turn to for help. Anthony Kessel handles plot and character well and this DIY detective story will appeal to fans of Holly Jackson and Sophie McKenzie. NB, there’s one particularly violent scene that some readers might find upsetting.
Friendship and family in all their complicated forms, domestic abuse, bullying, finding the strength to confront the truth - Yasmin Rahman’s This is My Truth packs a whole lot of big themes into its compassionate pages. The harrowingly authentic scenes of an abusive marriage show how male bullies operate in the domestic sphere - the control, the pathetic physical intimidation and harm they conceal from family and friends. This is powerfully important stuff, powerfully and honestly portrayed by the author of the acclaimed All the Things We Never Said. As Amani faces the stresses of her impending GCSEs (exacerbated by the pressure to become a vet like her abusive, controlling father), she finds an outlet in doing what she really loves - making films, “practically the only thing that brings me joy.” But alongside making playful pastiche movies with her little brother Ismail (their relationship is a thing of beauty), she documents the Bad Nights by filming her face while listening to her father abuse her mother. Meanwhile, Amani’s best friend – super-smart, super-confident Huda - stands up to bullies, but hides secret struggles of her own. Huda lives with loving foster parents, but with their own baby on the way, she’s scared she’ll be pushed out. As a result of their secrecy, Amani and Huda are envious of each other’s home lives, until Huda witnesses an abusive outburst. Though it (rightfully) doesn’t shirk from the brutal reality of bullying and abuse, This is My Truth is ultimately a story of hope and survival as the seeds of future flourishing are sown.