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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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June 2019 Book of the Month | After stories set in jungles and on the Russian steppes, Katherine Rundell has chosen the streets of Prohibition New York for her latest, but it’s just as full of the sense of peril and freedom from rules that characterises her earlier books, with central character Vita facing possibly the greatest danger yet. Newly arrived from England, Vita is determined to win back her family home, the fabulous Hudson Castle, acquired from her grandfather in a distinctly shady way by mob boss Victor Sorrotore. This will involve breaking and entering – and legend has it the castle is impregnable – and safe cracking, but Vita is fortunate enough to have as associates an extremely talented pickpocket and two fearless young circus performers. Rundell revels in setting her characters these kind of challenges and also in exploring the kind of physical and mental daring required to undertake them. She likes to equip her protagonists with right and with love too, the latter proves a formidable weapon for Vita. Beautifully written and full of scenes that both thrill and enchant, The Good Thieves is Rundell at her classy best. Readers who are captivated by Katherine Rundell’s wild children will also enjoy Stop the Train or The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean, or books by classic children’s writers such as Joan Aiken and Eva Ibbotson.
As the season of school sports day approaches this is a perfectly timed new outing for the irrepressible and hilarious cake loving heroine of the Waterstones Prize shortlisted I really want the cake! Cakes play an important part in this tale too, but first this little girl tries and tries to win. She really wants to win! It all starts with a race and she is in the lead but trips. A calamity repeated across every school in the land and so this is very good preparation for little would-be athletes. Time and again her ambition is thwarted. Her friend wins everything. The sense of injustice felt is so perfectly captured in the bold expressive illustrations that reveal the little girl’s impulsive character and her constantly changing emotions. But one day her friend does not win and very surprisingly for our heroine the friend does not mind at all and congratulates the winner. Our heroine is encouraged to forget about winning and just to do what she loves which is baking cakes of course! Then the loyal friend finds a Bake Off competition which our heroine approaches with proper humility having recognised how much she enjoyed the process. She surprises herself by winning and the celebrations are genuine. Resilience triumphs in this completely relatable story which will prompt useful discussion as well as laugh out loud moments.
When it comes to periods, we're often expected to cope with it quietly. But our periods and our hormones affect every area of our lives - so I am done with scuttling to the toilet with a tampon up my sleeve. I vlog about periods and hormonal contraception, and it's clear that I'm not the only one aching to be more open about this. When I reached out to my online community, I received an outpouring of raw, real and hilarious stories about what we through simply for having a uterus. From first periods to first coils, pimples to hot-water bottles and PCOS to endometriosis, The Hormone Diaries is your essential companion on the hormone rollercoaster. Filled with Hannah's insights, fascinating research and those priceless crowdsourced stories, it's the reassuring hug we all need. At least 50 per cent of the world has to deal with this stuff - it's time we started talking about it.
This is a delightful pacy read, led by Evie with her super-talent of being able to hear and talk to animals. When Evie has released the school rabbit and caused a deal of trouble, she promises her father she will ignore her talent – which she does for a whole year. But then animals start to disappear, all sorts of animals, can Evie help to find them and solve their mysterious disappearances? This is a timely novel which has themes around helping save the environment and its animals and will surely appeal to all animal lovers. This character led tightly plotted thriller enables the reader to fully engage with the heart-warming story, whilst also embracing your own difference – making for a very satisfactory reading experience in a chapter book. Emily Gravett’s amusingly lifelike illustrations of all the animals add a great deal of pleasure to the reading experience – creating a book you won’t want to put down until you know the end! A book to stimulate thoughts about the environment and self-worth wrapped up in an excellent story for young readers.
Inspired by footballer Rio Ferdinand’s documentary about coping with children after the death of his wife and by seeing the positive impact of football on her own son, this is a story that Eve Ainsworth was desperate to write. The difficulty that men and boys often have in expressing emotion and talking about their feelings is well documented and can be extremely harmful to mental health and well-being and she feels that it is vital that we do all we can to change this. The main character, Alfie, a talented young footballer on the brink of being signed, loses his mum to cancer. His father withdraws into his own grief and as Alfie’s world falls apart a strange girl, Alice, fierce, unpredictable and patently deeply troubled herself, helps him cope with his loss as she battles her own problems with poverty and domestic abuse. This author has written several novels which explore real life and contemporary issues that are deeply relevant to teens such as bullying, relationships and mental health concerns but this is her most moving, accessible and empathetic yet. The writing is subtle honest and has real emotional depth and insight that will hopefully help young people of both sexes think about and articulate their emotions. Highly recommended.
May 2019 Book of the Month | Like all classics of American middle grade fiction - as this may well be esteemed in future - this is radiant with humour, heart and a whole lot of indelibly authentic child-centred observations and emotions. With his dad away on army service, and faced with being plunged into the jungle of middle school, Carter already has plenty on his plate when his family inherits the services of an eccentric British butler. While Carter is quick to revolt against the butler’s rigorous regime of tea-drinking, homework and housekeeping (including folding underwear, can you believe it?!), the butler’s ways, wisdom and polite-but-firm guidance (AKA being “a pain in the glutes”) casts a healing spell over the family’s soul, exactly when they need it most. Then, as the butler shares his love of “the most lovely and sportsmanly game that mankind has yet conceived” (AKA cricket) with Carter’s schoolmates, Carter himself comes to share his troubles and release his anger and grief so he can keep the metaphoric “bails from coming down”. Suffused with the same warmth, compassion and originality of the author’s stunning debut, Orbiting Jupiter , this funny, moving middle grade novel is a true treasure with broad appeal and rich rewards.
This is a book which any adult who deals with children, and not just teachers and others who work in school settings, would find enlightening, thought provoking and revealing. As we learn from the little snippets from the school reports of Paul Dix at the end of each chapter, the author has direct experience of being one of the ‘bad boys’ and now has more than 25 years of working to transform the most challenging behaviour in schools, referral units and colleges to call upon. As a 14-year-old he vowed he would change the way adults deal with behaviour and I defy any reader not to rethink their own strategies as a result of reading this book. Responsible adults should be just that – always in control of themselves before they attempt to take control of others. But this book is nothing to do with blaming teachers. Paul Dix is angry but he is angry with the lack of proper training in behaviour management and angry with the unrelenting drive for ‘progress’, pleasing Ofsted and analysing data which is destroying any ethos of pastoral care. Here chapter by chapter he asks hard hitting questions about school policies and behaviours and shows how these impact on students and often in a very counter- productive way. He writes with humour and the occasional frank expletive, he shares personal anecdotes, observations and tried and tested strategies backed up by theory, case studies and international examples. Each chapter concludes with three helpful checklists: Testing, Watch Out For and Nuggets which sum up, encourage and act as a quick aide memoire going forward. Ultimately the author’s message is about consistency and kindness. “ Visible consistency with visible kindness allows exceptional behaviour to flourish” This is a genuine must read that can genuinely transform schools and as his many examples show where improved behaviour leads, improved attainment follows.