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Reviews

The lost soul atlas

The lost soul atlas

Zana Fraillon
Orion Children's Books

Both a compelling fantasy quest and a powerful evocation of life on the streets, this is a fantastic tale from a talented writer. Great for JF/Teen crossover

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 10th August 2020
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Every little piece of my heart

Every little piece of my heart

Non Pratt
Walker Bks

Freya left her old life in a hurry, without goodbyes and without an explanation. Her best friend Sophie has been waiting five months to hear from her - and then a parcel arrives from Freya. But inside is simply another layer, addressed to Win, a girl Freya barely knew. Or did she? Sophie and Win come together to try and work out what Freya is trying to tell them.

The mysterious set-up for this title engages straight away, and the strong characterisation ensures that each protagonist has an individual voice. The use of multiple narrators could be a distraction, but under this skilled author it contributes to the utterly compelling plot. As we uncover layers of Freya's former life, we see a selfish but vulnerable girl, who nevertheless has tried to point her former friends in the right direction.

Issues of chronic illness, anger management, family drama and sexuality are all touched upon in a realistic way that suits the characters involved. The author is never preachy and reists the temptation to create a neat ending in favour of a hopeful, yet realistic, conclusion. This should have great teen appeal and is well worth stocking in schools and libraries.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 6th August 2020
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I have to start at school today

I have to start at school today

Simon Philip
Simon & S

Not a conventional "starting school" tale as it doesn't quite go the way you'd expect! Plenty of charm and humour make for a lovely read

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 4th August 2020
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The unadoptables

The unadoptables

Hana Tooke
Puffin

Five orphans dubbed 'the unadoptables' escape from their harsh orphanage in search of a family and a place to call home.

This is a thrilling, utterly engrossing adventure with strong characterisation and a great sense of place.The canals of Amsterdam are as much a character as the protagonists, offering a dramatic backdrop to the adventures the children face. A series of dramatic and hear-stopping adventures, with both kindly helpers and dastardly villains alike, ensure that readers will be hooked the whole way through.

Old-fashioned in the best possible way, this is a fantastic debut with plenty of appeal. A book to curl up with and devour.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 4th August 2020
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Coronavirus

Coronavirus

Elizabeth Jenner
Nosy Crow

An engaging book explaining Coronavirus simply and without alarm for young children. Axel Scheffler illustrations add appeal; definitely worth having in school libraries and could also be useful for parents to share.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 4th August 2020
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Dark blue rising

Dark blue rising

Teri Terry
Hodder

Strong female character, good tension and a series of plot progressions that keep you guessing. An excellent mix of a thriller with a supernatural edge. A great start to the trilogy. 

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 13th July 2020
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You should see me in a crown

You should see me in a crown

Leah Johnson
Scholastic

Liz has always believed that she is too black, too poor and too anxious to be in the spotlight. But when she learns that the position of prom queen offers a scholarship that would allow her to attend her dream college, she decides to face her fears and enter the race. It's awful, but new girl Mack makes things slightly more bearable. The only problem is, Mack is in the running too...

Addressing issues of racism, homophobia and mental health in a lighthearted and frequently humorous style, this is an excellent debut. Liz is a really relatable character and although very American, the trials and tribulations of prom season have great teen appeal. 

 

 

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 6th July 2020
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The great Godden

The great Godden

Meg Rosoff
Bloomsbury YA

Unsettling, well-crafted coming of age tale with a great sense of place and a clever narration that allows for subtle plot and character developments going on around our self-absorbed heroine. An absorbing read for thoughtful teens. 

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 29th June 2020
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Octopus shocktopus!

Octopus shocktopus!

Peter Bently
Nosy Crow

Amusing rhyme gives this tale real momentum, and the (very) bright illustrations add to the pace and humour. A mad tale that will leave you with a wry smile. 

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 29th June 2020
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Hello!

Hello!

Hollis Kurman
Otter-Barry Books Ltd

This deceptively simple book counts ten ways in which a family are shown kindness on their journey as refugees. The expressive illustrations demonstrate the steps taken by the family towards a new normal, and the sparse text allows space for the reader to discuss issues surrounding refugees and how they can be helped. It's a perfect situation book and also a lovely read.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 22nd June 2020
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Again again

Again again

E Lockhart
Hot Key Books

Intriguing and clever, on the surface a simple love story  but the various plot strands and alternative outcomes make this an engrossing read. Main character is flawed but believable, convincingly depicted by strong writing. Summer lit with a difference. 

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 15th June 2020
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A kind of spark

A kind of spark

Elle McNicoll
Knights Of Media

Drawing parallels between the outsider status of a young girl with autism and that of women accused of witchcraft centuries before, this novel centres on 11-year-old Addie and her fight for historical wrongs to be recognised. The author herself has autism and this is a sensitive portrayal of those living with the condition. The prejudice Addie faces is mirrored by the 'witches' she seeks justice for, and the debate around statues and memorials is very timely given recent events. Overall a moving and enjoyable read.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 12th June 2020
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The last paper crane

The last paper crane

Kerry Drewery
Hot Key Books

Incredibly accomplished writing relates a powerful, emotional tale of guilt, resilience and hope that will leave you both drained and uplifted. An important read that could easily become a classic of the genre, up there with Morpurgo and Boyne

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 29th May 2020
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Eating chips with Monkey

Eating chips with Monkey

Mark Lowery
Piccadilly Pr

Poignant tale in which nothing and everything happens, and the characters fully engage and immerse the reader in the family's microcosm. Impressive writing that will leave you emotional, a little tearful, and with an instant craving for chips!

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 26th May 2020
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The enigma game

The enigma game

Elizabeth Wein
Bloomsbury

Mixed race orphan Louisa Adair, flight lieutenant Jamie Beaufort-Stuart and RAF driver Ellen McEwan are thrown together in the extraordinary circumstances of World War II. They meet in a pub near an airfield in Scotland, and all are exhausted by the horrors of war. Then a German pilot drops off a mysterious, precious package  - and the three young people must work together to alter the course of history.

Wein's wonderful writing creates a great sense of place, building the world of WWII Scotland in a totally believable way. Her protagonists are strong and brave, united by their desire to help the war effort and at the same time hide something about their past. Their adventures make for an edge-of-the-seat tale, with some really heartstopping moments - and a bittersweet ending where the importance of being yourself is shown.

This is a cracking historical adventure, great for the author's exisiting fans and sure to draw in new readers. Well worth having on your shelves.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 21st May 2020
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