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It is difficult trying to talk in our family cos: a) Grandparents don't speak English at all b) Mum hardly speaks any English c) Me, Bonny and Simon hardly speak Chinese d) Dad speaks Chinese and good English - but doesn't like talking In other words, we all have to cobble together tiny bits of English and Chinese into a rubbish new language I call 'Chinglish'. It is very awkward. Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in 1980s Coventry with her annoying little sister, too-cool older brother, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. But unlike the other kids at her new school or her posh cousins, Jo lives above her parents' Chinese takeaway. And things can be tough - whether it's unruly customers or the snotty popular girls who bully Jo for being different. Even when she does find a BFF who actually likes Jo for herself, she still has to contend with her erratic dad's behaviour. All Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist. Told in diary entries and doodles, Jo's brilliantly funny observations about life, family and char siu make for a searingly honest portrayal of life on the other side of the takeaway counter.
What do you do when you find out your teacher has unbelievably massive secret? This is a young adult story exploring the differences between a contemporary Asian teenager’s upbringing and education compared to that of his parents’. Unlike them, Jeevan doesn’t have to deal with the difficulty of being the only Asian kid in his school but keeping your head under the radar is no longer the only way to get on, and Jeevan has to jeopardise all the advantages his parents have given him in order to stand up for what’s right. Despite his hard work and brains, Jeevan, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of That Asian Kid, is doing badly in his GCSE English Literature class. His teacher, Mrs Greaves, dislikes him intensely and Jeevan is convinced that he is the victim of racial prejudice. Can he stand up for what’s right? When he comes upon her in the woods outside school in a compromising situation with another teacher, Jeevan can’t help but film the scene on his phone. With this secret new ammunition at his fingertips – dare he upload it to social media? he prepares to take her on. A strong, thought-provoking and enjoyable read by the author of The Girl in the Broken Mirror.
November 2018 Book of the Month | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | A stunningly original ocean adventure by a one-of-a-kind author whose work defies convention and abounds with a purity of ideas and execution. Kel was “always running away from something”, seeking escape “from the world she inhabited within and the world that bullied her from the outside”. She’s a swamper, born oceans apart from the wealthy tower people who live in the same Cornish coastal community. She’s also an unforgettable heroine, a girl with danger in her eyes, a baby to care for and “a stupid heart that beat wrong and was shaped wrong and had wrongness stretched clean through it”. Kel “didn’t want what the tower people had; she only wanted two things, a heart she could rely on and freedom from kin”, which is why she kidnaps Rose, the daughter of a cargo ship captain. Kel plans to use her ill-gotten gains to travel to South America to have a heart operation, because in the UK “swamp folk don’t get operations”. Aboard the ship Kel tracks down Rose and forces her to board a smaller vessel, soon running into trouble when the engine fails amidst scenes of devastation on the mainland. Steering clear of well-worn clichés, Carthew’s stories cut to the heart of human experience, often portraying and championing life’s underdogs and outsiders. What a thrilling, thought-provoking novel this is, brimming with perilous encounters, and the rawness of real-life relationships.
August 2019 Debut of the Month | Fiercely told, this is a powerful coming-of-age story told in verse, from one of the UK's leading poets, Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan and The Poet X. A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died - although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can't handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad's snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt's snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. Crazy name, and she's been through more crazy stuff than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She's tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he's drawn to her, and definitely why he can't seem to shake her. Because there's nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness - and who can maybe even help take it away.
July 2019 Debut of the Month | Often lyrical, and always entertaining, this Norse-vibed YA debut has friendship, fear and coming-of-age conundrums at its heart. It tells the tale of a land ransacked by a civil war that saw a new religion and younger prince replace a brutal old regime. Some nine years later, in peacetime, friends Torny and Ebba remember nothing of the war, or life before the uprising. But with their land on the brink of fresh upheaval, the unforgettable female protagonists find themselves on separate tracks, with painful, testing, relentless repercussions. With a cast of characters that includes gods and spirits, shamans and magic-workers, the world-building is fabulous, and the dual narrative device (it alternates between Torny and Ebba) really adds to the drama and tension. Fantasy fans will be delighted to hear that a sequel is on its way.
July 2019 Book of the Month | Cassandra Clare certainly knows how to write on an epic scale - following hot on the heels of Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows, this third and final book in The Dark Artifice trilogy is a true beast of a book due to its wildly imaginative world, doggedly determined characters, and its sheer size and scope. “There was blood on the Council dais, blood on the steps, blood on the walls…Later Emma would remember it as a sort of red mist”. Amidst this gory scene, Julian clutches Livvy Blackthorn, “resisting all efforts by the guards to lift her dead body away from him”. But, while death looks down upon them and Julian grieves, the Clave is on the brink of war and swift action must be taken if the Shadow World is to survive. To this end, Julian and Emma embark on a jeopardous journey to recover the Black Volume of the Dead, battling great peril alongside grappling with their forbidden love. And then the secrets they uncover in the Court risk destroying everything they value, and everyone they love. The sense of urgency is dazzlingly evoked and swells to a suitably heart-pounding finale to this opulent love-and-justice-driven trilogy, with the many plot threads woven together in Clare’s typically extravagant style. The Dark Artifices Trilogy is our Series of the Month - find out more. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Dark Artifices.
Fast-paced and brimming with earthy atmosphere, this flavorsome feast follows the high-stakes quest of Lann and Astrid in their Viking-esque kingdom. It serves up a satisfying, easy-to-digest banquet that will be devoured by younger teens and reluctant readers who love high fantasy, but struggle with huge casts of characters and excessively complicated worlds. Lann is a foundling whose father turns on him following the death of his wife: “A curse, left by evil spirits to bring us misery!” he accuses. After encountering a terrifying wolf-man hybrid and losing his sight, Lann is taken-in by Fleya, a powerful witch to whom he has a close connection. Soon after, Lann takes-up the Dreadblade, one of the kingdom’s Swords of Destiny, which has been “woken from its torpor and desires to go about its work again”. His sight restored by the sword, Lann and the Dreadblade are now bound by fate. Meanwhile, across the kingdom, Astrid’s father, the king, has been murdered and she must find his killer before her brother is blamed for the crime. When Astrid’s life entwines with Lann’s, it falls to them to save the kingdom from the stirring evil. Alongside the thrill of monsters, witches and warring gods, the main characters have great appeal. Astrid is a fabulous, fiercely-minded young woman, and the loving, protective relationship between Fleya and Lann is brilliantly evoked.
With the award winning success of previous titles such as Blame My Brain, The Teenage Guides to Stress, Friends, and Life Online and Positively Teenage, Nicola Morgan has well established credentials with teachers, parents, librarians and young people for calm, authoritative, well researched guidance and this new title may be her most important yet. We live in the age of the image and young people are constantly exposed both to images of perfection and to critical responses to their own images. Anybody of any age can suffer from negative body image and Nicola admits that writing this book helped her, just as reading it will help many adults I am sure. But adolescence is when humans are most vulnerable and exposed to a “perfect storm” of changes to bodies, feelings, environment and expectations and so they are the ones that need this guidance most. Nicola has also produced some extensive teaching notes to accompany the book on her website www.nicolamorgan.com. The book is divided into two sections: All in the Mind and Making Your Body Brilliant. Body image is created by your mind and the first section explains how this works, how negative patterns can develop and tackles topics like gender, sexuality, body dysmorphic disorder, social media and cultural differences. Every chapter includes Body Boost suggestions- techniques to help you think more positively as well as a fantastic summary and lists of resources to find out more and including fiction reading suggestions (Nicola is a tremendous advocate for what she terms Readaxation) The next section is full of practical ways to keep your brilliant body healthy, strong and looking its best to enable you to achieve your dreams. Full of quotes and engaging human stories and told in a completely non-patronising manner, this is an essential purchase for classrooms and school libraries.
Three beautifully drawn, distinctive and compelling voices narrate this heartbreakingly honest story. All three are young women dealing with depression and mental health issues. The story starts with Mehren and the depression and anxiety which she personifies as “Chaos” are overwhelming her life causing her to sign up to a terrifyingly authentic suicide website called MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death. This is where she met Cara and Olivia. We learn that Cara is blaming herself for her father’s death and her own injuries while Olivia is suffering from the abuse that started when she was fifteen. The girls share their problems and find strength and friendship while completing the bizarre tasks set them by the website. The different points of view enable the reader to understand how mental health affects us all differently. The book pulls no punches and librarians and teachers must be wary of triggering descriptions of suicide attempts and abusive situations. But the authentic representations are extremely valuable for increasing understanding and showing that each culture and situation has its own unique problems. Family relationships and secondary characters are equally well depicted and although dark and intense the resolution is realistically hopeful. An impressive and important debut.
August 2019 Debut YA Book of the Month | Becoming Dinah, Kit de Waal’s first YA novel, is a compelling re-imagining of the classic Moby Dick. Introducing entirely new characters and a VW campervan in place of a ship, de Waal skilfully weaves a feminist thread through this originally male-dominated story. The obsessive Captain Ahab has his power torn from him by a teenage girl fighting to escape her unconventional upbringing, determined to carve a new life for herself. Becoming Dinah is a moving, powerful coming-of-age novel, an adventure-laden road trip with self-discovery at its core. It will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned life’s journey – the places we’ve been, the paths we choose to take and the people we meet along the way.