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In Reviews

1

When the War Came Home

In only her second novel Lesley Parr comes over as a born writer but with still some way to go as an author. Her sentences, shorn of unnecessary decoration, are finely balanced, following their own natural rhythm. She is good at place and character, and unafraid to take on big topics, in this case soldiers […]

2

Rita Wong and the Jade Mask

Here’s a surprising and original take on the classic detective story. Young Rita Wong, newly-ish arrived from Hong Kong, is settled in Morecambe and living a quiet, lonely but normal life, until the day she spots a mysterious green-headed figure staring out across the bay. On closer inspection, it turns out to be a dragon […]

3

The Revelry

Growing up in the small town of Ember Grove is ordinary but, there is something very special to be anticipated on finally leaving school, the traditional, but secret, ceremony called the Revelry.  For Bitsy Clark it is part of her family history and she is looking forward to discovering its secret when her turn comes.  […]

4

A Tale of Two Dragons

Separated by a hedge of thorns, two wealthy kingdoms stand back-to-back. Arbor has lush green woods, orchards and plenty of birds whereas Pomosa has rich farmland, crops and grazing cows. There’s a problem though, for the people of Arbor require wheat and rice for baking; those of Pomosa are unable to cook without firewood to […]

5

Group Hug

This wonderfully clever and inventive story about needing hugs all round is the perfect answer, both during the current pandemic and the soon (hopefully) end of such, because everyone needs hugs, it doesn’t matter how young or old we are.  The rhymes are very skilful and funny, and the illustrations huggable; the inclusivity ticks lots […]

6

There’s a Ghost in This House

A girl with green skin and green hair invites us into her old house, with the slightly worrying admission that ‘I haven’t had visitors for quite a while’, and an invitation to help her find a ghost. As soon as we enter the house, Oliver Jeffers interleaves a semi-transparent almost blank sheet between the left-hand […]

7

Black and British: an illustrated history

Professor David Olusoga, OBE, is well known as a historian, broadcaster and presenter, writer, and champion of diversity. His book for adults Black and British: a short, essential history was so well-received that he has written this excellent version for children, remembering that, in his own schooldays, black people did not feature at all in […]

8

The More Monster

Are there too many things in your life? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by stuff? Be prepared to reassess the status quo with a smile on your face as Hayley Wells addresses over-consumption and corporate greed with insight, style and charm in this wryly-humorous allegory. A fairer world is possible, we just need curious little […]

9

Every Leaf a Halleluja

Mangoshi is on a quest – her mother is ill, she needs a special flower from the forest to heal her. But this flower is not easily found.  Indeed, her first attempt is a failure – fear and duty intervene. However, as time passes the village finds itself facing a crisis – illness stalks through […]

10

No One Is Angry Today

In a return to the same world as Tellegan and Boutavant’s The Day No One Was Angry comes ten interconnected, anthropomorphic tales in which powerful and unexplained emotions are exhibited with the surrounding cast there to pick up the pieces and wonder why. From a Firebelly Toad who seeks to cause pain and misery to […]

11

Inside Cat

‘Inside Cat knows many windows, finds a view wherever it goes. Wanders. Wonders. Gazes. Gapes. Sees the world through many shapes…’ What’s inside and what is not? What exists and what does not? Prepare to have your perceptions challenged in this intriguing picturebook, and keep your eyes open for visual and verbal clues to help […]

12

Bitter

This is the companion book to Pet but it can be read as a free-standing story, too. Bitter has had a wretched childhood, passed from one foster home to another, deprived of love and support and perpetually hiding to escape the next punishment or abuse. Little wonder, then, that she craves a safe, quiet environment […]

13

Greta and the Ghost Hunters

Greta’s story is simultaneously spine-chilling, heart-warming… and hilarious. Her family are a charming, quirky group. Dad is a pipe-smoking poet and mum is a chakra-chanting yogi with a giant purple bouffant. Her little brother is a little less exciting, unless you share his obsession for lorries, and her adorable old Grandma lives in the loft […]

14

Nina: A story of Nina Simone

This is a biography of the legendary Nina Simone in picturebook form. Young readers will find out about Nina’s early experiences, her development as a performer and the social and historical context of her life. She was born Eunice Waymon in North Carolina into a musical household.  Her mother sang in church and her father […]

15

SuperJoe Does Not Do Cuddles

Joe is a superhero par excellence.  In spite of a Mum who insists that he wears his scarf or his vest or his belt, he rescues people from tigers, from runaway trains, and from a broken bridge over a river, muttering to himself that he sees the person behind these terrible happenings to be his […]

16

Blue Running

Prepare for socks to be well and truly knocked off long before reaching the end of this explosive novel. Set in a gun-toting future Texas that has broken away from the rest of the USA, this dystopian vision often feels too uncomfortably close to the current real thing. Carrying a weapon is compulsory for all […]

17

Maggie and the Moonbird

Sixteen short chapters furnish this book from Bloomsbury Readers. Ten-year-old Maggie sits on the stairs, boots on, binoculars round her neck, a scowl on her face. Her father had pinkie promised to take her out birdwatching that day, and now he says he is too busy. (Not Now, Bernard?) Her father explains that today he […]

18

A Mouse called Miika

A Mouse called Miika is the fourth in Haig’s popular Christmas series which began with The Boy Called Christmas recently released as a feature film. This volume tells the tale of a tiny mouse who leaves his home in search of cheese and adventure in ‘The World Outside’. The story is set in the magical […]