Young Readers


You Don't Understand Me by Tara Porter

Review by

You Don’t Understand Me

Invaluable advice for girls in an uncertain world

Teenage girls today have a freedom and power that their foremothers could only imagine, and yet with it has come an unprecedented level of pressure and expectation. In You Don’t Understand Me by Dr Tara Porter, we look at a 21st century society that sometimes seems ‘awash with emotion.’ Navigating the perennially thorny issues of teenhood, Porter provides a refreshingly free-thinking perspective on maintaining emotional stability in a world in which all the game rules have changed. Using case studies and observations gleaned from many years of clinical practice, she lights the way for young women (and their often flummoxed parents).

Read full Review

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

Review by

The Last Bear

For the planet and polar bears everywhere

Worthy winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2022 and our stand-out favourite of the year to date, The Last Bear by Hannah Gold is an exquisitely lovely read. It is the story of 11-year-old April and her time spent living on a meteorological station on an island in the Arctic circle. In this beautiful land of the midnight sun, the ice caps are melting and the polar bears are gone. Except, April has seen one, silhouetted on the horizon. A bear that will change her life, in a moving clarion call for our changing planet.

Read full Review

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

Review by

When the Sky Falls

The London Blitz, a silverback gorilla, and the meaning of love

A major London railway station, 1941. The platform is a sea of parents and young evacuees bearing regulation gas masks, I.D tags, and heavy hearts. Walking against the tide is 12-year-old Joseph, an arrival as opposed to a departee, and stricken with rage rather than sorrow. In When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle, we join Joseph as he is placed under the care of the equally fiery Mrs F, the owner of a rundown local zoo. If the Luftwaffe don’t get him, her silverback gorilla might, in this phenomenal story of war and compassion.

Read full Review

I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun

Review by

I Am the Subway

A day in the life of a Seoul subway train

A delightful premise and a visual treat, I Am the Subway by Kim Hyo-eun tells us a story from the unusual perspective of a subway train. Across the course of an average weekday, we join the train as it runs in one big ring around the city of Seoul (think the Circle Line but reliable!) As the train rattles on, it shares stories of the passengers it welcomes aboard every day, giving us a glimpse into the everyday lives of the inhabitants of this great Korean metropolis.

Read full Review

Telephone Tales by Gianni Rodari

Review by

Telephone Tales

A playfully surreal Italian treasure trove of tales

In the delightful Telephone Tales by Gianni Rodari, we’re transported to 20th century Italy, where we meet a travelling businessman named Signor Bianchi. Being away from his family throughout the week is tough for this doting father, and so to compensate, every evening at 9pm on the dot, he rings his daughter and tells her a bedtime story. As this is the era of pay phones and Signor Bianchi is a frugal gentleman, each story must be related in the time that a single coin will buy. Here we discover seventy of his deliciously peculiar (and short!) tales.

Read full Review

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Review by

Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town

A riveting slice of Americana

A contender for the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, springs from the longlist with its eye-catching title. Set in the American West, it’s a series of interlocking teen stories that roam from Alaska to Colorado. Characters and events intersect throughout, often oblivious of their roles in each other’s tales. Only the reader sees the big picture, and the motifs of wildfire, tainted priesthood, and a missing child. Likely the first time you’ve ever encountered amnesiac shellfish poisoning as a plot device, it’s an inventive portrayal of young small town life.

Read full Review

The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

Review by

The Crossing

Impressive refugee crisis verse novel scoops Costa prize

The English Channel has long been a scene of triumph for long-distance swimmers keen to front crawl the 21 miles between England and France. But this often tumultuous seaway is also notorious for being a watery graveyard of migrants and refugees. In The Crossing by Manjeet Mann, the lives of Nat, a young English Channel swimmer, and Sammy, an Eritrean refugee collide. Winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2021, this quietly devastating verse novel explores the perspective of two teenagers from very different worlds.

Read full Review

Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake

Review by

Locked Out Lily

A spine-tingling metamorphosis

Locked Out Lily by Nick Lake is both a deliciously spooky adventure and a journey into one girl’s fragile psyche. Lily is struggling with both a potentially fatal illness and the impending arrival of a new sibling. Sent to stay with her gran while her parents await the new baby in hospital, she broods that the baby is intended to replace her sickly self. That turns out to be the least of her troubles, when she returns home to find her parents have themselves been replaced by sinister dead-eyed doppelgangers. Ousting the imposters will require Lily to confront her innermost fears.

Read full Review

The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber

Review by

The Amazing Mr Blunden

Barber’s beautiful neglected classic is finally back in print

The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber is the perfect book to curl up at home with during these bleak days of midwinter. Rich in atmosphere and old-fashioned charm, it’s the story of siblings Lucy and Jamie, newly resident caretakers of a seemingly unoccupied country mansion. Far from being empty, however, the house is inhabited by ghosts and secrets stretching back a century. In this (literally) haunting time slip story of courage, faith and redemption, the children are tasked with righting a terrible past wrong.

Read full Review

Medusa by Jessie Burton

Review by

Medusa

Powerful feminist retelling of the famous Gorgon’s tale

Medusa by Jessie Burton gives us a compelling spin on the legend of the snake-haired girl whose gaze turns onlookers to stone. Mythology buffs will know her as a monstrous character, ultimately beheaded by one of the most famous heroes of Ancient Greek folklore. Here, however, she is a young woman with her own take on events. This gloriously illustrated book brings us Medusa’s story, a heady tale of love, betrayal, tyranny, and ultimately, the path to self-acceptance.

Read full Review