Tinsel by Sibeal Pounder – review

This book feels like Christmas. It has all the warmth, excitement and hope of Christmas, tied with a witty bow and the promise of magic. It has everything you could ask for from a Christmas book; magical characters, a rags to riches story, a disgruntled baddie, a fierce friendship and more than a sprinkling of hope. 

Laugh out loud funny and so brilliantly visual; Tinsel is crying out to be made into a Christmas film. Fiercely feminist and written with warmth and wisdom, this book gives you all the feels.

As with all her books, Sibeal gives a nod to social politics; stamping on gender stereotypes, highlighting inequality and the misuse of power and celebrating the individual who stands up for what they believe. 

My new Christmas favourite and a Christmas classic in the making.

About the book:

What if somewhere along the way we’ve all got the Santa story a bit wrong…? Join Blanche Claus and her best friend Rinki for a funny festive sleigh ride you’ll never forget! From Sibeal Pounder, bestselling author of the Witch Wars and Bad Mermaids series, this tale of friendship and mince-pie feasts is the perfect book to curl up with this winter.

Funny, feminist and with a huge heart, it’s a gloriously Christmassy adventure that will delight even the biggest Grinch.

Due to be published 29th October, you can order a SIGNED and PERSONALISED copy here.

The Night Bus Hero by Onjali Rauf – review

With her perfectly pitched voice and solid understanding of children’s minds and hearts, Onjali Q Rauf has written another classroom must-have. One of our favourite reads this year, we can’t celebrate this book enough.

The Night Bus Hero explores the importance of friendship and the perils of power and pretending to be someone you are not. It shows us that everyone has their own story and that friendship comes from listening, understanding and finding the common ground we all share. Fast-paced and full of adventure, with clues to solve and a mystery to unravel, this is sure to be a firm favourite for 8+.

About the book:

From Onjali Q. Rauf, the award-winning and best-selling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, comes another incredible story, told with humour and heart.

‘The boy’s an absolute menace.”He’s a bully. A lost cause!”Why can’t he be more like his sister?’ I’ve been getting into trouble for as long I can remember. Usually I don’t mind ‘cos some of my best, most brilliant ideas have come from sitting in detention. But recently it feels like no one believes me about anything – even when I’m telling the truth! And it’s only gotten worse since I played a prank on the old man who lives in the park. Everyone thinks I’m just a bully. They don’t believe I could be a hero. But I’m going to prove them all wrong…

Told from the perspective of a bully, this book explores themes of bullying and homelessness, while celebrating kindness, friendship and the potential everyone has to change for the good.

Due to be published 15th October. You can get your copy here. And while stock lasts, a copy with a signed bookplate here.

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten – review

A beautifully evocative story about the power of friendship and community, with a mystery that keeps you guessing and an unexpected twist. 

With a beautiful setting and a community of characters who will touch your heart, Kereen Getten deals with friendship, families and shifting relationships with compassion and skill. At the heart of this story is a message of acceptance and compassion with more than a nod to the power of imagination and friendship. We loved it. Perfect for 10+

About the book:

Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives – at least, that’s how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There’s only one problem – she can’t remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara’s memory starts to return and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.

You can get your copy here.

The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley – review

Stig of the Dump meets Skellig in this heartwarming time-slip debut about friendship and courage.

Brilliant for Stone Age and Environment topics, The Wild Way Home celebrates nature as Charlie finds a deeper respect for the wildlife and wildness of the forest and a new bravery and understanding of self.

Written with warmth and humour, Kirtley uses gentle details of every day home life that ground the story in reality and give the characters substance. Balanced with the peril and fierce wildness of a Stone Age forest, this is a gripping adventure, perfect for fans of Hilary McKay and Geraldine McCaughrean. We loved it!

About the book:

When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive.

But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day.

Or is there … ?

What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home. Fans of Piers Torday, Geraldine McCaughrean and Stig of the Dump will love this wild, wise and heartfelt debut adventure.

You can get your copy here and signed copies while stock lasts, here.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed – review

The Black Girls is a brilliantly written and engaging book, with a deceptively chatty tone that lures you in to a sense of comfort, before a perfect, powerful sentence snaps you to attention.

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel is an unflinching exploration of race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself. 

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

This is a timely and arresting book about growing up and drifting apart from your friendship group, learning who you are and who you want to become. It’s about facing history head on and understanding how the past impacts the present and the future.

It hits hard on social injustice, race and class, opening the eyes and hearts of the characters and the reader. Although Christina Hammonds Reed doesn’t gloss and filter or provide unrealistic happy endings, The Black Kids is an ultimately hopeful book, looking to a future that could be better. Should be better.

The comparisons with The Hate You Give are well deserved. We loved it.

You can order your copy here.

The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, this is a heartfelt and beautifully positive feel-good family drama about learning to be kind to yourself amid the ups and downs of life.

When Bea’s dad and his wonderful partner, Jesse, decide to marry, it looks as if Bea’s biggest wish is coming true: she’s finally (finally!) going to have a sister. They’re both ten. They’re both in fifth grade. Though they’ve never met, Bea knows that she and Sonia will be perfect sisters. Just like sisters anywhere, Bea thinks. But as the wedding day approaches, Bea makes discoveries that lead her to a possibly disastrous choice.

Bea is a wonderful creation. Written with an honesty that embraces a young teen’s big emotions, Bea is a fully believable and immensely loveable character. We were rooting for her from the start; following her journey and hiding behind our cushions as she made mistakes and walked head first into trouble.

Told retrospectively, and with a brilliant supporting cast of family and friends, we watch as Bea navigates her parents’ divorce and her dad’s new relationship with Jesse. Rebecca Stead writes with a brightness that lifts the characters from the page and colours their anxieties, jealousies, hopes and fears. Every emotion and injustice is haloed with intensity, as if felt for the first time by a young teenager learning to understand the new world she finds herself in.

A heartfelt and intimate celebration of love, families and friendship, this is a must read for those looking for honesty, positivity and happy endings. Perfect for 9+.

You can get your copy here.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is the stuff of dreams! The perfect book to escape into, it will take you on adventures to other worlds, with lush descriptions, imaginative characters and just the right amount of mild peril.

L.D. Lapinski has written a fantastic page-turner that is filled with adventure and magic, perfectly balanced by a grounding in family and friendship. There is beautifully casual inclusion of queer and non-binary characters, and the story is threaded through with an environmental theme, giving it the feel of a thoroughly modern future classic.

Their real strength is in creating incredible other-world adventures threaded through with universal truths. The Strangeworlds Travel Agency acknowledges that childhood isn’t always easy and care-free,  especially if your family is dealing with poverty and you are forced to take on adult responsibilities. But even in the hardest of times there is always room for wonder and adventure -and The Strangeworlds Travel Agency has plenty of both.

Perhaps, now more than ever, that is exactly what children need to see and read.


About the book:

Pack your suitcase for a magical adventure! Perfect for fans of Train to Impossible Places and The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club.

At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside . . .

When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds.

But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness – and takes our world with it.

A magical adventure for 9+ readers that will take you to whole new worlds.

You can get your copy here. Limited signed copies available here.

Gargantis by Thomas Taylor

At last! The much-anticipated sequel to Malamander is nearly here and we are SO happy to be sharing it with you all. We have SIGNED pre-orders available! Eek!

It’s a joy to be back in the world of Eerie-on-Sea amongst the characters and locations we know and love from our Malamander adventure. Dear Mrs Fossil, the delightful Erwin the cat, quirky Dr Thalassi, our beloved Jenny Hanniver, and of course, our heroes, Herbie Lemon and Violet Parma. It feels like coming home.

But there’s no time to get too comfortable amongst old friends because there are new mysterious characters appearing in Eerie-on-Sea, and a heavy dose of magic that seems to be spiralling out of control.

There’s a storm raging in Eerie-on-Sea. Has the mighty Gargantis come back from the deep…?

When an ancient bottle is found washed up on the beach after a ferocious electrical storm, all the residents of Eerie-on-Sea seem to want it … but should they in fact fear it? Legend has it that the bottle contains an extraordinary secret that spells doom for the whole of Eerie-on-Sea. Could it be true that the vast sea creature Gargantis has awoken from her slumbers, and is causing the large cracks that are appearing all across the town? Finding themselves entrusted with the bottle, Herbie and Violet discover they will need to ride the terrible storm and pacify the creature if they want to save Eerie-on-Sea from sliding into the ocean and being lost for ever.

Thomas Taylor is absolutely on form in this fantastic sequel. His clever word play is a delight to read and his world-building and character creation whisks you away in wonder.

Gargantis is an adventure mystery full of heart. It is packed with twists and turns, mysterious characters and magical beings. At its core is a story of friendship and courage, and of learning that you have the strength to face the world and to do more than you realise. It’s a celebration of children’s innate sense of justice and their belief in finding the good in the world. It is hopeful and happy and an absolute joy from start to finish.

With gorgeous cover art by the ever-talented George Ermos.

You can order your SPECIAL EDITION copy here.

Pretty Funny by Rebecca Elliott

This book is spit-your-drink-out and snort with laughter funny. And let’s face it, we all need a bit of that right now!

A riotous journey through school days and friendship dramas and surviving those horrendously embarrassing moments that feel like the end of the world, all whilst trying to break down gender barriers and break in to stand up comedy. Pretty Funny is here for you and all your self-care laughter medicine needs.

Does anyone ever really want to ‘fall’ in love? Knowing me I’ll just trip over it and graze my knee on the gravel of humiliation.
Haylah Swinton is fairly confident she’s brilliant at being a girl. 
She’s an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an INCREDIBLY patient sister to her four-year-old total nutter of a brother, Noah. 
But she has a secret. She wants to be a stand-up comedian, but she’s pretty sure girls like her – big girls, girls who don’t get all the boys, girls who a lot of people don’t see – don’t belong on stage. 
That hasn’t stopped her dreaming though, and when the seemingly perfect opportunity to write routines for older, cooler, impossibly funny Leo arises . . . well, what’s a girl to do? But is Leo quite an interested in helping Haylah as he says he is? 
Will Haylah ever find the courage to step into the spotlight herself? And when oh when will people stop telling her she’s ‘funny for a girl’?!

We love this book!

It’s about families and first love and finding your true self… and then finding the strength to actually like and comfortably become your true self.

Rebecca Elliott has perfectly pitched the young teenage voice and created a painfully funny and realistic picture of the early teen years. It’s a joy to read and an absolute page turner.

Mostly, this is a tonic. A healthy dose of self-worth and confidence building. A hugely positive and powerful hug of a book. It shows young teens how resilient and awesome and brilliant they really are and how to hold on to that power and smash their way through life, smiling and laughing and loving themselves.

Perfect for fans of Girl Online, Tamsin Winters and Louise Rennison, and a book that should be in every secondary school library. Perfect for 12+ but there’s nothing here that wouldn’t be appropriate for discerning 10+ readers who need a good old belly laugh.

You can get your copy here.

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.