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.
Virginia is feeling wolfish. Scowling, growling, and howling at the moon, her thoughts are dark. Her sister Vanessa is understandably anxious; can her artistic efforts dispel the storm clouds? This striking book is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s close relationship with her sister, the artist Vanessa Bell. The healing power of art, and the bonds of sisterhood, are portrayed with the aid of some beautiful illustrations.
A self-proclaimed outsider, Anna’s days are spent quietly dreaming. Her imagination is rich but her days are lonely. Until that is, the bewitching Marnie appears, and over the course of one long hot summer, opens Anna’s timid heart to friendship. But Marnie’s enigmatic aura is unsettling. Who is she really, and what is her mysterious behaviour concealing?
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’.
A pirate is sitting in Eddy’s gran’s bath. A startling event, but a very welcome one. Eddy has been having the most rubbish holiday in the history of holidays, and excitement is well overdue. Mad Bad Jake McHake has arrived, and he’s looking to recruit a gang of ‘salt-seasoned old sea-dogs’, for adventure on the high seas. Shortlisted for the Laugh-Out-Loud Awards 2017 (the ‘Lollies’), Eddy Stone’s riotous adventure is surely a major contender.
There is something rotten at the core of top spy agency Spectrum. One of it’s agents appears to want Ruby dead. Who? Why? Will they rue the day they crossed Ruby Redfort, the smartest, bravest secret agent ever? Congratulations to Lauren Child, who’s just been appointed our new Children’s Laureate. The hugely successful creator of Charlie & Lola, and the irrepressible Clarice Bean, now turns her versatile talents to 9+ adventure-crazy girls.
It is 1940. 10-year-old Barney and his mum are on the 11.50 train to London, all their worldly possessions contained in a suitcase on the overhead luggage rack. Bombed out of their home by the Luftwaffe, they are moving in with Barney’s aunty Mavis. But events on this journey will haunt them forever, as a mysterious travelling companion shares some chilling revelations. The Children’s Book Award is voted for entirely by children. This makes it an especially lovely accolade, and one that this year has been awarded to Michael Morpurgo, for An Eagle in the Snow.
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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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In this 2017 edition, our Poet Laureate presents poems from previous collections, plus a handful of new. A delicious assortment, it honours the fantastical landscape of our children’s inner lives, and tells us that poetry belongs to us all, it is the music of being human.