Troofriend by Kirsty Applebaum

We loved Kirsty’s first book, The Middler, and were very excited to venture into her next visions of the future. Troofriend didn’t disappoint and confirms her place as the Queen of middle grade dystopia.

‘Imagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?’

As well as looking at the rise and risks of technology, Troofriend explores the grey areas between right and wrong and good and bad. It’s a wonderful investigation into the nature of friendship; how far should you go to make friends or be popular? What does true friendship mean and what does it take to achieve?

This is a fantastic book for children with a strong sense of justice and those who love to imagine the world in the future. Best for 9+.

Due to be published 2nd April, you can order your signed copy here.

Evernight by Ross MacKenzie

If you like your adventures dark and dangerous and your stories gory, this is  the book for you. Perfect for fans of the magic and story building of Harry Potter and the darkness of A.F. Harrold's The Imaginary. 

Evernight is dramatically written; crying out to be read aloud. It would be a great choice for teachers who want to share some magic with Key Stage 3 pupils. We were totally engrossed, although we did have to read some of the more macabre sections through our fingers!

With fantastic characters who come alive through strong, dramatic writing, this is a vivid and engaging story. This is a refreshing take on good versus evil, with the evil being deliciously dark and dangerous and the good being feisty yet powerless.

Evernight is hard to put down and harder to let go of. We can't wait to see what happens later in the series.

About the book:

Thousands of years ago, the Evernight came to the Silver Kingdom and turned everything to darkness and chaos. It was only defeated thanks to the skill and bravery of the Witches. But now the Evernight is about to return, released by the evil Mrs Hester, and the only spell that might stop it is lost, deep below the great city of King’s Haven.

Then orphan Larabelle Fox stumbles across a mysterious wooden box while treasure-hunting in the city’s sewers. Little does she realise she is about to be catapulted into an adventure, facing wild magic and mortal danger – and a man who casts no shadow . . .

Best for 11+ You can get your copy here.

Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Haggar-Holt

“This is Littlehaven. Nothing ever happens here. Until the spotlight hits my family.”

Izzy’s family is under the spotlight when her dad comes out as Danielle, a trans woman. Izzy is terrified her family will be torn apart. Will she lose her dad? Will her parents break up? And what will people at school say? Izzy’s always been shy, but now all eyes are on her. Can she face her fears, find her voice and stand up for what’s right?

A beautifully accessible book about growing up, dealing with friendship issues and securing your place in the world, we really enjoyed spending time with Izzy and her family.

Sarah Haggar-Holt writes sensitively and positively about Danielle and her family's response to her transition but the focus is very much on Izzy and her realisation that parents are fallible and not all-powerful, all-knowing beings. We follow her as she finds her way through secondary school, dealing with all the anxieties of facing friendship issues, learning who you are and securing your place in your world.

Engaging characters and an honest insight into how it feels for the family of someone transitioning, this deserves a place in every key stage 2 library.

You can get your copy here.

Furious Thing by Jenny Downham

(TW - Domestic violence, coercive control)

This book is immensely powerful. The kind of book that will leave you staring at the wall and trying to make sense of the world. In a really good way. It is clear to see why it has been shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award.

Furious Thing tells the story of 15 year old Lexi who is swallowing her fury with the world around her. She lives with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend John and her young half-sister Iris. Her mother and John are planning to marry but Lexi has other ideas. She can see that John is not a good man and is manipulating her mum. She is also in love with John's son, Kass.  Can she open her mum's eyes and show the world what is really going on? Can she show Kass what is real and what is making her a furious thing?

Domestic violence and coercive control and manipulation are strong themes running through the entire book. Lexi is an unreliable narrator; her anger and pain is visceral and complex and as a reader it is often painful to watch. She makes decisions that will have you shouting at the pages of the book, but shouting from a place of empathy and understanding and your own raw fury. Because Jenny Downham has perfectly crafted Furious Thing to engage, enrage and empower its readers. She twists the tale so expertly that you are drawn into John's lies and then slapped by the reality of his manipulation, she brings you along a fiercely emotional journey and, in some ways, is just as unreliable as Lexi. Just as you think you have your full fighting fury at the ready she adds another twist and another layer of injustice to the pile. Buy this for all the young women in your lives and watch them stand tall.

Ultimately, this is a book that will empower its readers to speak out, unleash their fury and stand up to injustice and manipulation.

Feel the fury, find your voice and fight for your future. It's in your hands.

You can get your copy here.

 

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder

Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory.

Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker.

Newt accepts everything – that is, until the mysterious Devlin arrives.

Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

In this powerful and brilliantly original debut novel, friendship creates strength, courage is hard-won and hope is the path to freedom.

Bearmouth is a darkly beautiful and gritty story of courage and friendship in the face of religious tyranny and social injustice. Newt creates his own language as he is taught to read and write by the men he works and lives with in the mine. As he becomes more able to express himself he begins to question the world he is caught in and seek justice and equality for himself and his fellow labourers.

Reminiscent of Victorian child-labour, Bearmouth is a haunting setting. Atmospheric, rich and breathless, this is an immersive book that will leave you feeling empowered and emboldened. A fantastic debut.

You can get your copy here.

Gloves Off by Louisa Reid

#GlovesOff by @louisareid is stunning! Beautifully written in verse and packing an emotional punch, it’s a gem of a book celebrating diversity, body-confidence in the face of bullying, and the power of finding your tribe. 🏳️‍🌈💪🏾🥊

Lily turns sixteen with two very different sides to her life: school, where she is badly bullied, and home with her mum and dad, warm and comforting but with its own difficulties.

After a particularly terrible bullying incident, Lily’s dad determines to give his daughter the tools to fight back. Introducing her to boxing, he encourages Lily to find her own worth.

It is both difficult and challenging but in confronting her own fears she finds a way through that illuminates her life and friendships.

Meeting Rose, and seeing that there is another world out there, enables her to live her own life fully and gives her the knowledge that she is both beautiful and worth it.

Out now from @guppybooks you can get your copy here.

The Monster Who Wasn’t by T C Shelley

“A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between.

It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being …

This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him `Imp’ only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops.

He’s a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn’t know where he fits. But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he’ll stop at nothing to see it come to pass…”

Imaginative and unusual, this is an intriguing, compulsive read that will stay with you long after you close the covers. A story of magic and darkness, with lots of gothic elements and an exciting quest for belonging.

Brilliant for fans of Lorraine Gregory and those looking for something a little different. Best for 9+.

You can get your copy here.

Birthday by Meredith Russo

Meet Eric and Morgan. Born on the same day, at the same time, in the same place. They've always shared this one day together, but as they grow up they begin to grow apart. Everyone expects Eric to get a football scholarship, but no one knows he's having second thoughts. Former quarterback Morgan feels utterly alone, as she wrestles with the difficult choice to live as her true self. Both of them are struggling to be the person they know they are.

Who better to help than your best friend? Told on one day every year, over six years, this is a story about how change pulls people apart... and how love brings them back together.

Birthday is a beautifully authentic #ownvoices coming-of-age story about surviving prejudice and finding self-acceptance. Prepare to be emotionally invested in this glorious will-they-wont-they with a heartwarming ending that will leave you grinning for days. The perfect summer read. We loved it.

And just look at those rainbow sprayed edges!

You can get your copy here.

All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys

Smart is not just ticks and crosses, smart is building boats from boxes. Painting patterns, wheeling wagons, being mermaids, riding dragons. A joyful ode to all the unique and wonderful qualities that make children who they are.

We love this bright and positive book that celebrates the rainbow of talents that each child brings to the world. With engaging illustrations throughout and a colour palette filled with bright greens and oranges, this is fun and appealing for a range of ages. A beautifully inclusive book that celebrates children being children and all the ways they bring joy to their world. This is a brilliant antidote to the test-driven world todays children are living in.

The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovlie

Four little girls meet under an apple tree and form a bond that grows as they share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes. This beautifully illustrated tale charts the girls' lives through ups and downs and laughter and tears. Find out how their friendship flourishes as the years pass by and the girls become women.

We love this beautifully diverse and inclusive book celebrating friendship and shared experience. A brilliant book for children of all ages, this is a picture book that offers more as you return to it, with lots of detail in the illustrations and layers in the text. Perfect for PSHE and inclusion.

You can get your copy through our online shop here.