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In Reviews

19

Human Town

An important story about pollution, consumerism and the dangers of extinction, this picture book turns the usual plot about the extinction of animals into one about humans being the ones who may disappear from earth.  As such, it is chilling at the end, but very thought-provoking for older children.  The elephant family is enjoying spraying […]

20

Truth Be Told

Sue Divin’s book is set in Northern Ireland during the second half of 2019, a time of significance and tension for the region and its people. But, as in her highly regarded previous novel Guard Your Heart, she also uses the story of contemporary young people to shine light on the history of the Troubles […]

21

Me, In Between

Madina is 15, attending school in Germany. In history, her class is learning about the Second World War. The teacher shows photos of ‘mountains of corpses and hanging bodies’. She talks of prisoners herded like cattle into gas chambers. Madina puts her hand up: ‘I’ve also seen how people are killed. Back home.’ Far away, […]

22

Mum, Me and the Mulberry Tree

Full of light and love, and infused with the warmth of a special day in the countryside, this beautiful and uplifting picturebook reminds us to be present in the moment and value time with those we love.. “There’s juice on our hands and stains down our shirts…” Early one morning, a mother and her daughter […]

23

Every Cloud

It’s all here in Every Cloud, as you’d know if you were in Year 6; sleepovers, besties, dance classes, Area Sports Days, nail painting, parties-and-what-to-wear, parties-and-who’s-not-been-invited, and so on. Then there are also a couple of questions everyone in Year 6 faces. Which school are you going to in the Autumn? And which of your […]

24

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks

Alice Tonks is an 11-year-old autistic British schoolgirl. She is about to join an elite boarding school colloquially known as Pebbles. Alice’s deceased mother and her living grandmother (who acts as her parent) are both former pupils of the school. Alice is nervous about going away to school. She knows that she doesn’t easily make […]

25

We Sang Across the Sea, The Empire Windrush and Me

The internationally acclaimed Benjamin Zephaniah has written a powerful, moving picture book about the voyage from the West Indies of HMT Empire Windrush. In his bouncy, poetic style, Zephaniah introduces Mona Baptiste, one of five sisters born in Trinidad in 1928. On this island of sunshine, her passion is to sing. ‘Joy is what I […]

26

The Hunt for David Berman

David Berman is a young Jewish refugee who came over to England in 1940 on the Kindertransport and is eventually sent to work on a farm in Scotland.  Meanwhile Robert and his sister Elsa have been evacuated from London to his grandparents’ farm not far away from David.   In a cave on the beach by […]

27

Wellington’s Big Day Out

It’s little elephant Wellington’s fifth birthday and he’s excited when he receives a jacket exactly like his Dad’s. However his delight is short-lived for when he tries it on, it’s far too big. Mum steps in with a suggestion to make the day a good one nonetheless, and off go Dad and the birthday elephant […]

29

Needle

Charlene is angry; angry with her mum who died, angry at the way she is dismissed by adults, and most of all angry that she has been completely separated from her little sister whom she adores. She hasn’t seen her for two years and she herself is now in foster care. Her rage bubbles inside […]

31

Our Sister Again

Flora died of neuroblastoma at the age of 15. Three years have passed. Her sisters, Isla now aged 13 and Una now aged ten, miss their deceased sister terribly, as do their parents. Their grief persists until they encounter Project Homecoming. This is a highly secret undertaking whereby a technological company promises to deliver what […]

32

Rainbow Hands

Childhood is evoked on the first page; ‘Playtime, studytime naptime, snacktime, storytime…The days stretch on for ever and ever.’ And doing just what he sees his mother do, this little boy paints his fingernails. For his favourite time is painting-my-nails-time. The boy selects different colours for his many different moods, e.g. a perfect purple for […]

33

Smile Out Loud

Poetry – poems – are still often seen as esoteric, to be handled with care, presented in hushed tones. Joseph Coelho has a mission to dismiss this stereotype and in partnership with the illustrator, Daniel Gray-Barnett, he sets about this with vigour. These are not ‘serious’ poems – the title alerts one immediately; these are […]

34

The Riddle of the Sea

This beautifully illustrated book contains a rip-roaring adventure on the high seas, complete with pirates, a cursed ship, monsters and a battle with the sea itself. Ravian’s father, Lasse, is a sailor and though he is often away from home for long periods he always returns for Ravian’s birthday. However, on his twelfth birthday Ravian […]

35

The Boy Who Grew a Tree

This book begins with a framing story which sets the scene. After their regular trip to the library a young girl asks her grandfather to retell her favourite story – the one about the boy who grew a tree. And so the story of a young boy called Timi unfolds. Timi loves the natural world; […]

36

One Tiny Dot

Kindness is an actual character in this remarkable and very beautiful picture book.  He comes in the form of a tiny blue dot, who takes a ride on a little boy’s new trainer and is welcomed happily.  The tiny blue dot becomes bigger, and this is the theme of the story.  The kindness continues to […]