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.

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.

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. 

The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla

Told over the course of the ten rounds of his first fight, this is the story of amateur boxer Sunny.

A seventeen year old feeling isolated and disconnected in the city he’s just moved to, Sunny joins a boxing club to learn to protect himself after a racist attack.

He finds the community he’s been desperately seeking at the club, and a mentor in trainer Shobu, who helps him find his place in the world.

But racial tensions are rising in the city, and when a Far Right march through Bristol turns violent, Sunny is faced with losing his new best friend Keir to radicalisation. A gripping, life-affirming YA novel about friendship, radicalisation and finding where you belong.

YA books often have a lot to say about the world and our place in it. The Boxer is a beautiful example of this. So much more than a book about a boxing match, it holds equality and respect at its core and brilliantly portrays the self-doubts and uncertainties of a young man navigating his way through trauma-recovery and racism while he fights to understand his own identity.

Relevant, fresh and a thoughtful celebration of self confidence and learning to take up space, The Boxer is an eye-opening look at the positive impact sports can have on mental health and identity. The Boxer is an inclusive and inspiring gem not to be missed.

You can get your copy from our online shop.

I Am Not A Number by Lisa Heathfield

The powerful and heart-wrenching new novel from Lisa Heathfield, award-winning author of Seed and Paper Butterflies. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan, Louise O’Neill and Lisa Williamson.
The Traditionals have been voted to lead the country, winning people over with talks of healing a broken society, of stronger families and safer streets. They promised a happier future for everyone. They didn’t promise this.
When Ruby is swept up with protesters from the opposition, her life is changed forever. Locked in a prison camp far from home and with her belongings taken from her, she’s now known by the number 276. With horror escalating in the camp, Ruby knows that she has to get her family out – and let the world know what’s happening.
Set in the present day, I Am Not A Number is a powerful and timely book for both young adults and adults alike.

I Am Not A Number is a politically charged book that thrills with tension. A The Handmaid’s Tale for teens, it is inspired by the holocaust and the current rise in fascism. Reading Ruby’s story is all the more terrifying because it poses the question of whether it could happen today.

I Am Not A Number has all of Lisa’s trademark harrowing grittiness and the stunning, award-winning writing that has gained her so many fans. It is not easy to read about the prejudice and the terrifying events that occur in the camp but we don’t pick up Lisa Heathfield’s books for an easy read. We turn to them to have our eyes opened and to see inside the darkness. To see through the fake news and behind the gloss and filters to the bitter truth of prejudice and division. Lisa’s books make us contemplate a future out of our control, and help us to understand the darker realities of our world and what we need to do to change them.

Ultimately, I Am Not A Number is about the power of hope and is a celebration of the inspirational young people who are standing up to prejudice and are campaigning for a better more inclusive future. It shines a light in the darkness of political campaigns filled with hatred, fake news, and segregation, and offers another option. One of hope and a future of compassion and equality.

Just remember to breathe while reading!

You can get your copy here.

Lily and the Rockets – Rebecca Stevens

‘Whatever you decide to do,’ he used to say, ‘there’ll be people who’ll tell you not to, say it’ll be too hard, you won’t like it, it’s not for the likes of you. They’ll try and stop you, Lily-oh. But you mustn’t let them. Listen to me, girl. You Must Not Let Them!’

Lily and the Rockets – Rebecca Stevens

It’s 1917. Lily spends her days working in a munitions factory, her nights picking metal out of her hair, and her lunchtimes kicking a ball with her workmates. Together they form a football team, the Rockets, and a league soon follows.

But when the war ends, the girls lose both their jobs and their football. Not Lily. If her only chance of being a goalie is to play with the men, then that’s what she’ll do …

An empowering story about having the courage to be yourself and follow your dreams. Brilliant for 10+

We love the beautiful cover illustration by Harriet Taylor Seed.