Is it true? Do they really die at the end? Well, the Grim Reaper certainly stalks through this book, but it’s also very much concerned with big, bold, shining life. Teenagers Mateo and Rufus inhabit an alternative New York City, one in which an agency known as Death-Cast informs citizens when their demise is near. Death will occur within 24 hours, exact means and time unknown. When this dark fate befalls Mateo and Rufus, they embark on one last grand adventure, to live a lifetime in a single day.
Calling every teenager that thinks poetry is boring! Shelve your prejudices and open your mind to Kate Tempest, who honed her craft ‘rapping at strangers’ on night buses and all-night raves. In Brand New Ancients, she has created a poem in the tradition of the epic myths, and fused it with a tale of urban angst in south east London.
With Autumn upon us, and the nights drawing in, surely now is the time to get your kids cosily curled up with a book. Or two. Or preferably, a whole series, to keep them busy until Spring. With this in mind, we’ve cherry-picked a few, for discerning young minds.
‘But all the roads in Albion are drowned now.’ And so it proves to be, under the rain-sodden skies in La Belle Sauvage, the majestic first volume in a new series by Philip Pullman. Decades after its initial publication, we return to the dazzling multiverse of His Dark Materials, to uncover the early childhood of beloved heroine Lyra Belacqua. Prepare to be entranced by a book of big ideas, that demands of its readers, curious and open minds.
‘Magic. Sorcerers. Freaks and weirdoes’. Just some of the dark delights in the tenth instalment of Derek Landy’s bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series. In this latest unholy adventure, Mr Skulduggery Pleasant takes on the daunting task of saving the world, a task that entails confronting the most malign forces of sorcery imaginable, along with the occasional impracticalities involved in being a skeleton.
Imagine some ingenious kid setting up a high school gossip app. Imagine said kid being of unfortunately malevolent character, and taking great pleasure in posting his fellow students darkest secrets online. When this scenario is realised at Bay View High, a seemingly innocuous after-school detention sets the scene for murderous revenge and jaw-dropping revelations. One of Us is Lying has been a big hit on this summer’s Teen bestseller list. Containing romance, intrigue, and potential murder, it’s compelling reading, and also remarkably easy on the brain.
The roll call of Roald Dahl’s books is impressive. There can’t be many children unfamiliar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or The BFG. But teenagers often leave his books behind, not realising that he wrote some deliciously subversive short stories, just ripe for adolescent minds. His nod to the macabre is captured in this 2017 Puffin collection, ideal to dip into as September marks Roald Dahl’s birthday celebrations.
Zen Starling, petty thief and one of the ‘…low heroes of this infinite city’, rides the rails in a distant future. His exploits are often nefarious, but he also has an abiding love for the romanticism of the K-Bahn, a galactic train network that traverses the very stars. Desperate to escape his bleak existence, Zen accepts a dangerous proposition, one that will leave him in possession of the very key to the universe. The award nominated Railhead introduces us to an intriguing new universe. Picture a gilded and lamplit locomotive, its huge engine idling ‘like a heartbeat deep inside it’.
July in London brings the annual Pride Festival and Parade, a joyful celebration of LGBT culture and history. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, a warm and supportive guide to all aspects of LGBT life. There’s no doubt that fizzing hormones and emerging sexuality can lead to tumultuous times. If that sexuality feels different or ‘other’ to the mainstream, then embracing it must sometimes seem impossibly hard and terrifying.
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‘Too old for Wimpy Kid? Meet Joe Cowley’. A fitting tag line to lead us into the fourth instalment of this series. 16-year-old Joe and his band ‘Sound Experience’, move to London, in pursuit of stardom and cosmopolitan living. A squirm- inducing comedy of embarrassment is to follow. Do you have a teenage boy in your life who chuckles at flatulence, cringe comedy, and the word ‘knobber’ as a term of insult? If they also happen to be reluctant readers, then the Joe Cowley series could well be an essential purchase.