BITE-SIZE BOOKS snappy suggestions for good reads*
* There are SO MANY great books out there. These are just ones I've recently read and loved.
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ONE OF A KIND
THE BOY WHO HIT PLAY by Chloe Daykin (Faber & Faber)
This is different. It's out there. Just... Just don't open the book and expect anything to be obvious. Let it take you on the ride. The story is of a boy called Elvis who, along with his adoptive dad and his friend, go looking for his mother. In this twisty-turny tale, they are hindered by one person who is trying the kill them and another who is stalking them in the shadows. And the reason why? You'll just have to read it. It's brilliant. The words are lyrical, and sometimes the narration goes a bit haywire, just like Elvis' brain flips, but even when it gets confusing, surreal or peculiar, keep going - because just like Elvis' journey, the end is so worth it. It's also very funny. I snorted aloud (that's right, snorted)! I would advise this for kids who already like reading and want something juicy and new. Age 9+ #adventure #thrills #sounds
CHEESE FROM DIMENSION PONG by Gareth P Jones (Stripes)
This is book 6 in the Pet Defenders series, and if you're a fan of action and comedy, you'll love it. It reminds me of an old-time cartoon series called Dangermouse, full of jokes, ridiculous predicaments and characters that are dead serious about being utterly bonkers. My prediction is that this series will get picked up by television one day. But until it does, sit back, read and enjoy the jokes. This one's really cheesy. Age 7+ #mad #funny #kidlit
WED WABBIT by Lissa Evans (David Fickling)
First off, let me tell you - you will NEVER have read anything like this before. This is Alice in Wonderland stuff, although a lot funnier and with fewer rabbit holes, despite there being a large rabbit involved. Prepare to snort your way through the adventure, but don't think it's just funny without foundations. This book will make you go ha-ha and then oh....I see. Age 8+ (all the way up to adults) #sidesplitting #clever #kidlit
THE DAY I WAS ERASEDby Lisa Thompson (Scholastic)
Maxwell often misbehaves, but he reaches a troublesome all-time low when he ruins a very special school event. Feeling sorry for himself, he wishes he'd never been born. 'Poof!' (enter the magic) - he gets what he wished for. At first this not-existing thing is a shock, but Maxwell uses his insight to weave a little wisdom into the lives of those around him. And he realises how much he cares - for all of them. Including Monster, his dog, who will die if it doesn't exist to save him... If only he could get back, he'd be loyal and thoughtful, he'd make everything better. But he can't - not before he solves the intricate mystery of how he vanished in the first place! This has all of Lisa's trademarks - a good story which goes deeper than than words. As with her other books, there are scenarios and issues many would recognise, tackled as always with compassion, humour, refection and intelligence. Age 7+ #disappearing #family #dog
THE NOTHING TO SEE HERE HOTEL by Steven Butler (Simon & Schuster)
If you're looking for a glossary of crazy names and beasts and a slap-stick show of silliness, this one is for you. A simple story younger readers will be able to follow, just so long as they have a smattering of Troll. Age 7+ #monsters #fun #kidlit
JUST JACK by Kate Scott (Piccadilly)
In Jack's world, nothing is certain - where he will move to next and go to school, why his Dad left and what the future holds... To cope with the constant uncertainty, Jack has given himself a protective shell. But then Jack meets Tyler. Tyler is super-confident, an inventor and creator, and he could be a forever friend if Jack can let down his self-defence. This is a gentle story with punchy characters (that challenge Jack's view of life and himself), and sub-plots that address the hidden angst of kids. Lots of funny moments, and great inventions! Age 7+ #inventions #friends #kidlit
THE BOY WHO GREW DRAGONS by Andy Shepherd (Piccadilly)
The first couple of pages had me giggling like a popping-candy-laced fruitcake, but it quickly settles into a warm and easy-going tale of a boy who discovers a dragon plant and befriends one of its fiery fruits! This story is more cuddly than scaly, and is bound to put pet dragons top of young kids' wish lists. Oh, and they'll be a run on dragon fruit. Warn your supermarket. Age 7+ #family #fun #kidlit
DREAMING THE BEAR by Mimi Thebo(OUP)
Excuse me while I just take a minute to get over reading this book... ahem. Thank you. Right. THIS BOOK with its brilliant simplicity gets right to the heart of a story about a girl and a wild bear. There are moments of suspense, sadness, love and loss. It focuses on a few characters and a small but powerful plot that's guaranteed to stay with you. If you love the wild, the unknown, the impossible... you don't need to dream. Just read this book. Age 7+ #adventure #nature #kidlit
BOY IN THE TOWER by Polly Ho-Yen (Corgi)
I didn't read the blurb on the back - I just jumped right in, and this book did not go where I expected. A boy called Ade lives in a tower block with his mother, who after suffering trauma starts to disappear before his eyes as she is swallowed up by depression... and then... The everyday blends into sci-fi-esque peril, as everything Ade has ever known begins to crumble. Literally. London is falling down. Giant plants are consuming the city's bricks and concrete, causing buildings to topple. It's Joe All Alone (Joanna Nadin) meets The Triffids (my favourite thing ever), with a touch of War of the Worlds and even a speck of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. More importantly it's a fascinating look at the meaning of community and coming together in the face of adversity. Most of the characters are adults, which is rare in kidlit, but they are superb - you'll never forget them. Much like this brilliantly original (yet somehow familiar) story. Age 7+ #disaster #friendship #plants
THE MANY WORLDS OF ALBIE BRIGHT by Christopher Edge (Nosy Crow)
Oh, you're going to love this one. In the story of a boy who has lost his mother, there is emotion, yes. But there's solid science, too. Fact supports the fiction, and fantasy what-ifs sit happily alongside accessible descriptions of the most famous scientific theories. And long after the story is finished you'll be left wondering if anything is possible... For Albie, it's searching for his mother through space and time, in myriad worlds. For you, it might simply be finding a worthy enough follow up to this book. And you're in luck. If you love Quantum Banana Theory, you've only just begun to explore the universe... Easy to read, despite the physics! It's the perfect springboard for curious minds. Age 6+ #science #parallels #adventure
JELLY by Jo Cotterill (Piccadilly)
Anjelica 'Jelly' Waters is the 'chunky' class clown, always putting herself down to make others laugh. Her friends think she's happy, but her poetry shows otherwise. And when her mum's new boyfriend puts one of her poems to music, Jelly realises her own tune has to change. With some great characters (l love Jelly, herself) and recognisable scenarios, this is a thoroughly absorbing story. It's easily accessible too, but ready to challenge young readers with plenty of interesting themes - e.g, sexism, self-esteem, prejudice and, key to the story, honesty. Age 8+ #identity #honesty #kidlit
MURDER IN MIDWINTER Fleur Hitchcock (Nosy Crow)
A proper murder mystery! After witnessing something sinister in London's crowds, city girl Maya finds herself whisked off to the safety of her Aunt's home in the remote wilds of wintry Wales. She learns to get to grips with her awkward cousin and his stubborn horses, while managing her own fear of being discovered. This book ticks along; as it ticks faster and faster, so does your heart. Maya is not safe. Be prepared for mild fear and to close the book when you've finished feeling as if you've been properly thrilled. Age 8+ #thrill #page-turning #kidlit
JOE ALL ALONE by Joanna Nadin (Little, Brown)
Imagine if your parents went away on holiday without you. No parents - cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not. In this story Joe understands what it's like to be truly alone, and if you think that could never be a bad thing, just read the book and get back to me. This is beautifully written - it tumbles excitement with fear, friendship with hardship; but don't worry, hope is always a day away. *now a BBC Children's series (but read the book first!) Age 8+ #brilliant #moving #kidlit
THE LIGHT JAR by Lisa Thompson (Scholastic)
Okay, so before The Light Jar came the highly acclaimed The Goldfish Boy but for me, this is the one that ticked all the boxes. It's atmospheric, hovering somewhere between hard reality and soft-focus dreamland, as a boy who is on the run with his mum finds bravery. Or perhaps bravery finds him. It's full of charm and 'glowing' with fantastic characters - and every one, everyone, has their own story of acceptance and of finding inner strength. Age 8+ #touching #dramatic #kidlit
WHERE THE WORLD ENDS by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne)
Read this in big wholesome chunks and you'll soon find yourself immersed in the (based-on-truth) story of a group of boys lost for months on a craggy Scottish island. The intricate writing drip, drip, drip-feeds fear and discomfort until you're right there, face in the sea-spray, salt-stained and hungry for something other than sea birds. It's an astounding tale of survival in a hostile and brittle environment, and how the human spirit confronts physical and mental strain. For very confident readers. Age 11+ #survival #loyalty #kidlit *winner Carengie Medal 2018
WHERE DO YOU GO, BIRDY JONES? by Joanna Nadin (Little, Brown)
Good things come to those who wait - and if you take your time to fall into step with what may be an unfamiliar dialect (Leeds) and conversational style, then you will be richly rewarded. This is a properly great tale of home, homing birds and belonging. Much of it is dialogue and, somehow, brilliantly, without lengthy descriptions and scene-setting, it is drenched in atmosphere. The characters are tangible (and fantastic), the pace is page-turning, and the story is full of heart - *sniff* - what's that? Nothing, just something in my eye... *sniff*. Age 9+ #pigeons #discovery #kidlit *released July 12th.
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