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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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Merfolk of the World | We are all fascinated by mermaids – whether it’s the story of The Little Mermaid, or the idea of mysterious creatures luring sailors into danger. This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to mermaids from all around the world – not just the UK and Europe but across the Americas, Australia and Asia too; it seems that people everywhere have always been entranced by the idea of human creatures living in the sea or deep lakes. Many of these mermaids are beautiful, some are helpful and kind, others anything but. The stories will catch the imagination, and this is a book to pore over and return to again and again.
Exploring the all-consuming throes of love, malicious secondary school social politics, sexual abuse, and how difficult coming out can be, William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty is a top-notch YA thriller with hard-hitting emotional resonance. Forced by social media exposure to come out earlier than planned, Dylan and his gregarious boyfriend Ellis reveal their relationship to the world in spectacular style at a school dance: “Okay, Dylan, this is it. No going back. The closet door is firmly barred behind you, chained and bolted. No re-entry, no refunds. It’s gay all the way from here on out.” Riding high after an unexpectedly jubilant response to their revelation, tragedy strikes when they leave the party - Ellis becomes angry and their car plunges into a lake. While Dylan is rescued, Ellis drowns, leaving Dylan wracked with grief and guilt: “I deserve the pain. I deserve the crazy. I deserve a messed-up hand. No one’s taking these things away from me.” Set on trying to “find out who pulled me out of that car and why they left Ellis to drown”, it’s not long before Dylan stomps into a viper’s nest, uncovering jaw-dropping truths that set him - and readers – reeling. With his family less than supportive, at least best friend Mike remains at Dylan’s side, even though he’s undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia. Gripping, moving and unflinchingly honest, this is a fiercely affecting novel, told through the cleverly interwoven collision of two timelines.
June 2020 Book of the Month | Caroline Lawrence, author of the bestselling Roman Mysteries series, combines her second-to-none knowledge of the classical world with her ability to tell a great story to create terrific new historical adventures. Alex and Dinu have already experienced time travel – they explored Roman Britain in the first in this new series – now they are being whisked back into Ancient Greece, and this time Dinu’s clever little sister Crina is coming with them. Minutes after the three have arrived in the Temple of Athena in Athens, Alex and Dinu are captured by Scythian archers – the ancient Athenian equivalent of the police. The action keeps up at the same pace, short chapters and pacey dialogue keeping the pages turning! Ancient Greece has never seemed so appealing, and it’s great that Lawrence makes learning about it such thrilling entertainment. One to recommend to fans of Rick Riordan, while readers longing for more classical adventure should check out Philip Womack’s new story The Arrow of Apollo too.
With the pizzazz and humour that make his Dragonsitter books so popular, Josh Lacey tells the story of one girl’s efforts to save the planet. Like many ten-year olds Hope Jones is worried about the state of the environment, and about plastic pollution in particular. Her dad is always saying if you want something done, you have to do it yourself, so she sets about doing what she can. Her adventures are recounted via her lively blog and we get a ringside view of her peaceful protest outside the local supermarket, interactions with local businesses, and conversations with neighbours, friends and parents of friends. As her campaign reaches more and more people, Hope realises that we can all make a difference, if we’re determined enough. There are great illustrations throughout, and it all makes for a fast, entertaining and positive read. Hooray for Hope Jones!
Written by the first Children’s Laureate for Wales, Wilde is a wonderful mix of old legends in a contemporary school setting. The heroine, Wilde, is plagued by strange, supernatural and downright strange events that all seem to gang up and make her stand out from the crowd. Set in Wales, near a waterfall which has a long history of association with witches – founded on a gruesome tale of death caused long ago in the falls – and a set of strange experiences for Wilde as she tries to settle into her new school all combine to create a beautifully written modern witchy story. When a local drama practitioner is brought into class to help facilitate a play about the local legend for the end of term it seems as if something has stirred and the witch is trying to curse and frighten everyone. Can Wilde survive all of this – still be herself and yet manage to fit in to the new school? The book is written with an obvious love of old legends, the sense of place in the book is palpable and Wilde is a delightful lead character – well drawn and thoroughly engaging. This book promises to be equally as feted/praised as Williams previous two novels, Gaslight and Seaglass.
Young children are by nature curious about the world and how everything works, and this highly visual and beautifully designed picture book wonderfully explains some difficult scientific concepts by putting them in the context first of animals and nature and then of daily human lives. It also highlights how much of our learning comes from our senses and the challenge which Invisible Nature takes on so brilliantly is to explain things that we cannot see, feel, touch, hear or smell and yet which are a fundamental part of our everyday life. These include electromagnetism, microwaves, ultrasound, infrasound, ultra- violet and scents ( those that are beyond human perception but not that of an ant or an albatross) The author has declared her passion for presenting ‘ big issues for small people’ and the clarity of the text is well matched here by the colourful and detailed illustrations and page designs which engage and lead the eye through the explanation. One of the most fascinating images is at the end of the book where we see a human body and the impacts upon it of these invisible forces and you can see that some things pass through the body completely undetected – cosmic microwaves, radio waves and electromagnetism from the Earth. The reader will be awed and inspired to learn, for example, about ultra violet lichen which enable reindeer to find food in the dark Arctic winter or the magnetic map that migratory birds hold in their heads or be terrified by piranhas’ use of infrared to detect prey in murky waters. While the use of ultrasound by bats may be familiar it had certainly not occurred to this reader that this was how automatic doors function. This brilliant and enticing information book will attract a wide readership and certainly deserves a place in every library.