We’re big fans of the fabulous Little People, Big Dreams series. Created to showcase inspirational females of the world, it’s heartening to find history lessons no longer fixated on dead white men. Here, at number 29 in this delightfully burgeoning collection, is Vivienne Westwood by Isabel Sánchez Vegara, a chance to learn about the life and cultural impact of the legendary left field designer, and how she went from suburban teacher to the ‘…most unique and outspoken fashion designer ever.’
‘Reese made me feel like I was wearing chainmail and he was a giant sexy magnet.’ Oh, the fizzing chemical wonder of romantic attraction. For aspiring singer/songwriter, Amelie, being with Reese is intoxicating. He’s cool, charismatic, and the lead singer of a band, their connection one of musical as well as sexual passion. It looks a lot like love. Except surely real love shouldn’t hurt like this. The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne explores the devastating emotional fallout from a mentally abusive relationship.
Everyone says Big Pete Kowalski is a good guy, widowed with four kids yet never once asking for help. His 11-year-old son, Max, wants to be just like him when he grows up. Max, however, is already carrying a man-size burden, caring for his three little sisters while his dad works long shifts. Max Kowalski Didn’t Mean It by Susie Day charts events when Big Pete suddenly disappears. In this distinctive and engaging novel, Max and his siblings are plunged into an adventure that will take them from Southend Pier to the mystical Welsh mountains.
In the light of recent news events in the UK, The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams, is stuck with a rather unfortunate title. Thankfully, the beast in question here is of the mythical variety, as Walliams dips his toe into the world of Fantasy. Set in a dystopian London in the year 2120, this is Prince Alfred’s story. Dark forces are at work in Buckingham Palace, and sickly, bookish Alfred must summon his inner hero and confront the threat, not only to the royal family, but ultimately the entire world.
Christmas is cancelled at Griselda Bone’s orphanage. No tinsel, no mince pies, and certainly no presents. Instead, algebra is the order of the day, plus extra fractions and a spelling test. This bleak scenario is 7-year-old Phoebe’s reality in The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone & Fiona Woodcock. Seasoned readers of traditional Christmas tales will want to reassure Phoebe that there’s just bound to be a liberal sprinkling of festive magic on the way.
The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett tells the strange tale of a lonely little girl named Eepersip, who yearns to escape the confines of her family and roam free forever in the wilderness. Running away from home, Eepersip experiences transcendental joy in her communion with nature. She does not want to be suffocated by conventional home and hearth, but her parents, in their desperation to keep her ‘safe’ have other ideas. Can this wild spirit be tamed?
‘He whose face gives no light,
Shall never become a star.’
This lovely quote from William Blake adorns the final page of A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard. Imagine if you will, an 18th century London inn, whose proprietor is none other than the great man himself. Overnight guests are in for an unconventional stay, in this B&B where dragons bake the daily bread and celestial angels plump the pillows. And all in Blake-inspired verse. Intrigued? Come on in.
Lyra reveres reason above all else, numbly observing that the very stars seem dead ‘…a vast silent empty indifference, all quite meaningless.’ Can this be the feisty heroine we remember from His Dark Materials, the girl with witch oil in her soul?The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman builds on the legendary multiverse of the previous novels, and joins Lyra as an Oxford undergraduate. An ineptly executed murder triggers a tale that will encompass a great journey, monumental secrets, and jeopardy too, as the shadowy powers-that-be resume their historic pursuit of young Lyra Silvertongue.
Lil and Kizzy are twins and Travellers, their lives ostensibly nomadic and free. But this is Romania in the late Middle Ages, a time of great persecution and danger for roaming communities, and tales persist of a northern prince with a penchant for stealing young Traveller girls, drinking their blood and inducing a malignant immortality. Your inner goth will be rewarded in The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, as we are introduced to the world of the dark prince himself. In this deliciously gothic feminist novel, Lil and Kizzy confront the legends and alter our Hammer Horror preconceptions.
Picture your future grandchildren ‘…standing on a spotless beach, staring out at a vast ocean free of plastic, pulsing with life, surf and wonder.’ Is this a realistic prospect? Kids Fight Plastic by Martin Dorey tells us that it can be, if young eco-activists everywhere rise up and lend voice and action to the campaign to save our beautiful oceans. Abuzz with ideas, this practical how-to guide shows us how seemingly small actions can make a difference.