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Each month our team of book lovers choose a selection of books they have loved and think deserve an extra shout out. Everyone fights to get theirs on the list. Here are this month’s faves.
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The series is currently in development for feature film by Disney’s Fox / Lucasfilm. | Inspired by the mythology of Western Africa, the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy garnered awards, critical praise and legions of fans. They will not be disappointed by the sequel but will be left yearning for the series conclusion with the dramatic cliff hanger ending. The fabulous world building continues with deepening complexity in both the political and religious layers of Orïsha. Zélie succeeded in restoring magic to the land at the end of book one, but now we see her dealing with the tragic and unexpected consequences. Magic has spread and the monarchy and military now have magical powers, too. Civil war follows and death and destruction run rampant. We see contrasting theories of governance and justice vie for the upper hand as Zélie, rebel princess Amari and her brother, the new king, Inan, all try to do the right thing for the country and their people while grappling with their feelings and their new capabilities. Misunderstanding and prejudice impacts them almost as much as deception and treachery. The lines between who is on the side of right or wrong are deliberately and fascinatingly blurred by Ademi forcing the reader to really think about the nature of power. Themes of guilt, grief, retribution, responsibility and self-sacrifice really resonate in this absorbing fantasy saga.
Independent Reading Red 2 | Developed with and endorsed by literacy experts from the UCL Institute of Education, Reading Champions are high quality, visually attractive and engaging supplementary reading resources. They are uniquely designed specifically to support independent reading alongside guided reading in the classroom. With clear exterior labelling linked to Book Bands, children can be confident that the carefully levelled text will be accessible to them. Developing readers need to build their reading confidence and stamina by extended practise within levels to embed and secure their skills while experiencing an enjoyable reading opportunity. There are at least six books in each level to offer choice and variety and they are ideal for reading practice at home. Parents and carers will feel supported by the extremely helpful guidance notes in each book on how to share and discuss the book with their child and by the opportunities to extend their learning with some enjoyable activities linked to the subject matter. Most importantly of all these original stories are lively and relevant to children’s lives. They feature a broad range of genres and contemporary topics and both the quality text and the vibrant illustrations reflect genuine diversity, so that every child can identify with characters and settings.
Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 | Award-winning Neil Gaiman shows all his story telling skills in this gripping fusion of familiar fairy tales told in a dark-hearted version with some original characters. Especially a bold-hearted queen. Not far from where the queen lives, a princess is under the spell of an enchantress who has put a whole country to sleep. Despite it being the eve of her wedding day, the bold queen decides to take action. Slipping into her mail shirt she arms herself with her sword and sets off out of the palace accompanied by the three dwarves who will lead her through the tunnels…The dark magic, great courage and spell-binding imagination that power this story is perfectly realised in Chris Riddell’s awesome illustrations.
Translated by the award winning Laura Watkinson | Available for the first time in the UK, this new translation is a real treat for fans of the breakout sensation Letters For the King, which brought the multimillion bestselling Dutch author Tonke Dragt to the attention of a UK audience for the first time and which then went on to win Children’s Book of the Year. Since then translator Laura Watkinson has continued her mission to bring us more of the award-winning author’s books. Written as twelve tales, the story of identical twins Laurenzo and Joacomo is perfectly suited to reading and sharing over the twelve days of Christmas! Each tale is a complete and satisfying adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world created so vividly in the Dragt books. The boys may be so identical that they can take turns to go to school, but they have very different talents and temperaments. Hard-working Laurenzo wants to make beautiful things and becomes a goldsmith; Jiacomo loves travel and adventure and in one tale is tempted to use his wiles to become an excellent thief. Although he gives up the immoral life, his skills come in very useful as from a case of mistaken identity involving the Knight of the Red Rose to the pursuit of the precious silver cups of Talamura, the brothers find themselves caught up in wild adventures that require all of their combined wisdom and cunning. A highly satisfying and totally absorbing read with prose that would be a joy to read aloud in class too.
November 2019 Book of the Month | Not since The Snowman have readers been taken on such a magical, snowy journey of love and adventure. Phoebe lives in a gloomy orphanage run by the cruel Griselda Bone. The two clash frequently, and often over Phoebe’s creative response to her school work: Griselda does not approve of words like ‘whispery’ and ‘flumping’. Locked up in the snow overnight, Phoebe and her little dog Herb are surprised by a huge and magical snow dragon, who takes them on an extraordinary ride through the skies. Filled with snowflakes, starlight and revelling in the power of the imagination this is a gorgeous story for Christmas nights and Fiona Woodcock’s illustrations are very special indeed.
Naomi Howarth’s beautifully expressive pictures have seen her twice nominated for the Kate Greenaway medal and shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize and she is renowned for bringing the wonders of the natural world to life for young readers. In this picture book, which would be a perfect resource for Cold Places topics, we first meet Magnus the Ringed Seal woken from his slumbers by a loud rumbling noise. What could it be? Neither he nor any of his friends- the Arctic Hare, the Snowy Owl, the Arctic Fox and the Polar Bear can identify the source of the noise. It’s not the wind nor the ice breaking or trees creaking. But when they reach the sea, wise Walrus has an idea. Magnus is told to dive for juicy pink shrimps, and he brings back a feast for them all to share. Suddenly they realise the noise has stopped and it was Magnus’s hungry stomach all along. In a delightful denouement, when they all try to sleep, another loud noise wakes them and this time it is Magnus’s snores! The animals are realistically depicted in their glorious Arctic settings but are simultaneously real characters that children can engage with. The end papers have key facts about all the animals featured. This is an enjoyable repetitive tale and a lovely introduction to the animals of a threatened habitat.