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Books of the week

Each week, our librarians and schools team select their favourites of the most recently published children's, teen and young adult titles, from picture books to YA fiction. Our favourites are highlighted as recommended reads, and the books with the highest number of votes from the team are named 'Books of the week'.

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Reviews

What beauty there is

What beauty there is

Cory Anderson
Penguin

The warm thread of hope that runs through this book makes it an excellent read. Poetic and thoughtful in places. Great characters, great story, well-written. This is an author to watch.

Emma McElwee Reviewed by Emma McElwee on 9th April 2021
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Esme's rock

Esme's rock

Simon Philip
Oxford U P

Lovely, unexpected tale that shows it's ok to be loud! Illustrations are great and the humorous touches (mammoth on a spa day?!) are great. Well worth buying.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 26th March 2021
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All American boys

All American boys

Jason Reynolds
Faber

This was first published in the US in 2015, and  now has been published here in the UK, but the events of the book are shockingly as pertinent (or even more so?) six years later. It follows the build up to and aftermath of a truly horrific attack on a young black teenager, Rashan, who is falsely accused of shoplifting and resisting arrest and is then beaten to a bloody pulp by a police officer and hospitalised. We see events from Rashan's point of view and his classmate Quinn who happens to be passing by and is witness to the event.  It's an easily accessible read in style but that draws out the complicated relationships between characters and their motivations, and existing racial tensions in a really clever, subtle way that never feels cliched or heavy handed, and engages your sympathy for both characters. Definitely one to promote discussion or just a cracking story to get your teeth into and really think about.

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 11th March 2021
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The Hatmakers

The Hatmakers

Tamzin Merchant
Puffin

Magical realism/historical blend works very well, and this is a rip-roaring adventure of the first degree with a determined main character, spunky supporting cast, and sneaky villains. Great debut read, with a hint at more to come

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 1st March 2021
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The girls I've been

The girls I've been

Tess Sharpe
Hodder

Electrifying thriller with powerful characterisation and an excellent plot, full of shocking twists. Intelligently written and a really enjoyable read.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 22nd February 2021
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The last bear

The last bear

Hannah Gold
HarperCollins

Excellent debut novel, with a strong central character and a compelling narrative. April and Bear's relationship is well described, although some events perhaps stretch credulity. Ideal for animal loving top juniors, and has class read potential.

Paul Cunningham Reviewed by Paul Cunningham on 17th February 2021
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The boy who made everyone laugh

The boy who made everyone laugh

Helen Rutter
Scholastic

An emotional roller-coaster of a story handling a number of serious issues sensitively through the eyes of a likeable main character that readers will be rooting for. A captivating read interspersed with some groan-worthy jokes! An author to watch.

Leanne Jephcott Reviewed by Leanne Jephcott on 8th February 2021
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The island

The island

C L Taylor
HQ Young Adult

Gripping from the start, full of tension and thought provoking moments. The characters are recognisable and familiar to the reader. An excellent addition to teen collections. Worth having.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 1st February 2021
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When the world was ours

When the world was ours

Liz Kessler
Simon & S

Powerfully effective storytelling, the short chapters told from each child's viewpoint adding to the emotional impact. Genuinely moving, especially the ending. Highly recommended.
Does not shy away from the horrors of war - we have categorised this as top Junior Fiction, but the depictions of the Holocaust, including concentration camps, may lead some to prefer this as Younger Teenage.

Paul Cunningham Reviewed by Paul Cunningham on 25th January 2021
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Love is for losers

Love is for losers

Wibke Brueggemann
Macmillan

Hilarious misadventures of our miserable heroine have great appeal, and unexpectedly moving denouncement adds emotional depth. Really enjoyable debut

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 19th January 2021
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Last one to die

Last one to die

Cynthia Murphy
Scholastic

A gripping page-turner from the start with believable characters you root for. For those who like to be on the sedge of your seat this is an ideal choice. A debut author worth watching

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 11th January 2021
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Darwin's dragons

Darwin's dragons

Lindsay Galvin
Chicken House

A great adventure story. Very readable and exciting, the writing is vivid and precise. This will inspire young readers to dream of unexplored lands. Good for all JF readers as chapters are a manageable length and keep you wanting more.

Emma McElwee Reviewed by Emma McElwee on 11th January 2021
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First day of my life

First day of my life

Lisa Williamson
David Fickling Bks

The premise feels both wholly unlikely and horribly realistic but the dynamic between the main characters is strongly portrayed and it is this that keeps you turning the pages. Covers a range of issues & emotions, a pacey, if slightly exhausting read

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 7th January 2021
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The tale of the valiant ninja frog

The tale of the valiant ninja frog

Alastair Chisholm
Walker Bks

Amusing tale with lively characters and expressive illustrations. Family are relatable and their storytelling skills very entertaining. Well worth stocking

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 17th December 2020
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Plague

Plague

Ben Hubbard
Watts

Gruesomely fascinating text supplies plenty of detail, and accompanying illustrations are great. Could be used for topic support or equally for general interest. References Covid-19

Lucy Forrester Reviewed by Lucy Forrester on 17th December 2020
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