Shortlisted for The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016, The Bone Sparrow is newly released in paperback. It’s the story of Subhi, a boy who was born in a refugee camp. He has never seen the ocean or the mountains. But he knows that someday he will. As soon as his dad comes for him. The global refugee crisis is one of the biggest stories of our time, making this a timely and illuminating read. Based on verified reports of life in refugee camps, this lyrical and moving story aims to show our children the humanity behind the refugee label.
This beautiful book is the very first story in the famous and beloved Moomins saga. With the Moominland exhibition at London’s Southbank Centre, and an upcoming retrospective of Tove Jansson’s art, it’s the perfect opportunity to rediscover their magic.
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The White Tower tells the story of Livy, a lonely, bereaved girl, trembling on the edge of adolescence. When her father becomes the librarian at ancient, hallowed Temple College, Livy is granted a scholarship there. A marvellous tale of alchemy, magic, and villainy unfolds.
Charlie lives in Little Town, under a corrupt and repressive regime. His friend, Pavel, is a refugee from hostile, neighbouring Old Country. When the inevitable bombs come, the boys are drawn into a chain of dark and traumatic events, that threatens not only their friendship, but also life itself. This isn’t a book I’d ordinarily be drawn to but I feel rewarded for stepping outside my comfort zone.
Double Down is Book 11 in the global franchise that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has become. Presented as part text, part cartoon, it’s the very amusing and irreverent diary of 12-year old Greg Heffley. In this instalment, Greg’s mum sets about ‘improving’ his mind. She gives him $20 to spend at the school book fair.
New Guard is the seventeenth book in the exhilarating CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore. Aimed at young teenagers, these books are ideal for parents who struggle to keep their boys reading. While it seems regressive to talk about ‘boys’ books and ‘girls’ books, in my experience, teenagers tend to split into these camps. And frankly, whatever it takes to kickstart the reading habit has got to be worth a shot!
For parents looking to inspire young daughters, this book is a joy. It celebrates the lives and achievements of various women over the ages, not only those with trailblazing careers but also those women whose principled actions changed society. Rosa Parks’ dignified stand against racial segregation is one example, also Emmeline Pankhurst, the formidable suffragette, who happens to be a distant relation of this book’s author, Kate Pankhurst.
A short but interesting autobiography of a privileged girl in Beijing who’s life is thrown into turmoil by the Cultural Revolution and the ‘Great Leap Forward’. A simple read with good insight into China in the early 70s. A must for young history lovers, to be enjoyed more for content than style.
To touch once again on perhaps the most popular romantic Young Adult novels of our day, Twilight; this is Bella Swan’s favourite book. From the brooding, mysterious and ghostly beginning, to the cruel and dreadful end, it is a book that wraps you with the howling wind and the desolation of the wild Yorkshire moors. The more beautiful, poetic, and romantic of the classic novels, I remember Wuthering Heights as the indisputably favourite – particularly when I wanted to absorb myself in the drama of being a teen! With its dramatic setting, including a perennially louring sky (“a perfect misanthropist’s heaven”), a pervasive sense of the impending and inevitable tragedy, and the desperate (both unrequited and requited) love stories, it is not surprising that it resonates with teenage angst.
A wonderful experience also in the audio version, with some excellent recordings by Juliet Stevenson, Patricia Routledge, Michael Kitchen respectively and one with both by Janet McTeer and David Timson, to name but a few. Sample Versions Here
A contemporary of Thackeray, Trollope, Dickens and George Eliot, Wilkie Collins was not only at the forefront of the detective novel (The Moonstone) but, as the hugely successful author of mystery and the sensational novel, he was also the celebrity of the time.
Lesser known, but much like its more famous sibling The Woman in White, the story revolves around the tangled threads of identity and destiny (though less saccharine than Collins’ The Two Destinies). Throw in a handful of revenge, and a femme fatal, and this thrilling nineteenth century ‘bestseller’ is hard to put down.
On an aside: The Woman in White is fantastic too and one of my favourites – read to perfection by Ian Holm. Sample Audible Here