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Reviews

The ABC factor

The ABC factor

Katrina Charman

Lively illustrations and a simple but fun story. Good shelf appeal, and would work for fans of Oi Frog and similar. Well worth having.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 19th July 2021
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Agent llama

Agent llama

Angela Woolfe
Little Tiger Pr

Absolutely tons of fun! Fantastic rhyme, a hilarious & clever plot, vibrant illustrations and a thrilling adventure story that will read aloud well. A must have.

Lucy McConnell Reviewed by Lucy McConnell on 12th July 2021
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The way to Impossible Island

The way to Impossible Island

Sophie Kirtley
Bloomsbury

An exciting and thought provoking time-slip story with many messages about facing your fears, being yourself and accepting who you are. The dual narrative works well. Definitely worth including in any school/library.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 9th July 2021
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Three bullets

Three bullets

Melvin Burgess
Andersen Pr

In true Burgess style this title doesn't shy way from difficult topics or controversial content! It is a gritty story overflowing with political, racial, social  and cultural comment with a focus that demands to be considered and discussed. Marti is an anti-heroine that truly tugs at the heart strings even as you feel uneasy. Harsh and disturbing but compelling nonetheless

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 2nd July 2021
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The cat and the rat and the hat

The cat and the rat and the hat

Em Lynas
Nosy Crow

Wonderful word play of the ilk of Cat in the Hat and Oi Frog, great momentum and with bright, lively illustrations. Funny for storytimes, but also has some phonics use too. Great!

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 29th June 2021
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Ace of spades

Ace of spades

Faridah Abike-Iyimide
Usborne

A powerful book that's very readable. It covers a lot of issues and has an abundance of plot twists. The main characters are likeable and resilient (they have to be!) Recommended.

Emma McElwee Reviewed by Emma McElwee on 18th June 2021
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The outlaws Scarlett and Browne

The outlaws Scarlett and Browne

Jonathan Stroud
Walker Bks

Highly imaginative, slick world-building perfectly combines with masterful characterisation and thrill-a-minute adventure. Think Bonnie and Clyde in a post-apocalyptic Britain, with added super powers. Superb storytelling I couldn't put down

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 14th June 2021
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Not my problem

Not my problem

Ciara Smyth
Andersen Pr

Our rebellious sparky heroine is a joy and the story manages to avoid the usual cliches of high school stories, with unconventional characters, witty humour, lots of silly antics plus moments of searing emotion too.  Think Derry Girls but minus the nuns and with a preoccupation with sorting out everyone's nonsense for them, just for the sake of it....A really cracking read.

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 8th June 2021
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Children of the quicksands

Children of the quicksands

Efua Traore
Chicken House

A very enjoyable story.  It's well written and exciting and gives a real taste of living in a remote African village. The juxtaposition between the new digital world and the old world is nicely done. There are plenty of surprises. 

Emma McElwee Reviewed by Emma McElwee on 1st June 2021
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You are a champion

You are a champion

Marcus Rashford
Macmillan

Full of good advice for how to live your life well, broken down into small chunks of accessible information from a well known name. Bound to get lots of attention, it should loan well and be a useful tool in schools.

Deborah Bradley Reviewed by Deborah Bradley on 28th May 2021
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Things to do before the end of the world

Things to do before the end of the world

Emily Barr
Penguin

This combines a timely premise and a mystery element sort of like the Talented Mr Ripley but with the end of the world looming? You might feel like you don't want to read about how the world might end on a particular date in September due to a shortage of air (I wasn't sure I did right at this moment!). But the idea of everyone on earth spending one last hedonistic summer ticking everything off their bucket list just in case is very appealing and the plot here does interesting things with it showing us how different characters and the wider world in general cope with their impending doom. We are quickly distracted by the mystery of Olivia's cousin Natasha and what her agenda really is. She arrives suddenly and whisks Olivia away to a life as a glamorous grifter, making money from unsuspecting tourists with street magic tricks and 'psychic' readings but all is soon revealed as Olivia becomes suspicious and also keen to use her newly found confidence to forge her own identity away from her magnetic, over-bearing cousin. The great characters and writing make for a wholly entertaining and thought-provoking read. 

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 25th May 2021
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Bad apple

Bad apple

Huw Lewis Jones
Thames & H

A fun cautionary tale about anti-social behaviour (1 page genuinely made me LOL!). Rhyme works well and should be fun to read aloud. Great stuff.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 24th May 2021
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The yearbook

The yearbook

Holly Bourne
Usborne

A compelling, emotional rollercoaster of a book addressing issues of bullying & domestic abuse in a believable way with great teen appeal. Bourne does it again, buy plenty.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 17th May 2021
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The outrage

The outrage

William Hussey
Usborne

This is a powerful, clever and all too plausible dystopia with excellent characters and a gripping plot.  The scenario of a future England ruled by shadowy, far-right megalomaniac known as the Lord Protector,  where homosexuality is illegal, books and films that don't support the government's message have been banned and teenagers are sent to camps to try and suppress their sexualities and rebellious natures is not a new plot scenario but here it's so well done and feels so realistic that it really sets you on edge. But the characters surrounding our hero Gabe, who is compelling himself, are really what makes it - from his loyal band of friends who he shares his illicit film stash with, to his complicated parents who we start to gain one picture of until all of the assumptions we have made about of them are suddenly turned on its head when Gabe realises that they have been part of the resistance movement all along. There's some lovely touches as well, like the gang's obsession with the pop culture they find 'from the past' and how they imagine how life used to be when everyone could be who they wanted to be. The central romance between Gabe and Eric is beautifully handled and it's all seeming so doomed and tragic that the only criticism might be that actually it does seem to have a happy ending after all which seems a bit neat. However this works as both a decent thriller and a book that could also generate plenty of discussion for schools use for KS4/5.

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 7th May 2021
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Melt

Melt

Ele Fountain
Pushkin Pr

An exciting story with characters you really root for. Dual narrative works well, with an important message about global warming and greed. Well worth having

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 3rd May 2021
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