News & Reviews

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.

 

The Costa Children’s Book Award shortlist is announced

This year's Costa Award category shortlists have been announced. Of course, the category closest to our hearts is the 2019 Costa Children’s Book Award. Here's the shortlist:

The category winners will be revealed on Monday 6th January 2020 and the overall Costa Book of the Year will be announced Tuesday 28th January 2020.

Have you read them all yet? Got some catching up to do? You can get all four shortlisted books in a special offer bundle for £30. Get reading, as we'll be sharing our thoughts on the shortlist and creating some polls to see who you think should win.

About the Costa Book Award

Launched in 1971, the Costa Book Awards is one of the UK's most prestigious and popular book prizes and celebrates the most enjoyable books of the year by writers resident in the UK and Ireland.

Uniquely, the prize has five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – with one of the five winning books selected as the overall Costa Book of the year and each category is judged separately by a panel of three judges per category. The Costa Book of the Year is then chosen by a nine-member panel which includes representatives from the original panels who are joined by other well-known people who love reading.

Books are entered by publishers and entry for the Awards closes at the end of June each year. The author of the Costa Book of the Year receives a cheque for £30,000, presented at an awards ceremony at the end of January.

Books of the Year have included ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman.

The judges for the Children's Book Award for 2019 will be:

  • Charlotte Eyre (Children’s Editor, The Bookseller) 
  • Bali Rai (Writer) 
  • Danny van Emden (Children’s Buyer and Deputy Manager, West End Lane Books)

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Expect the unexpected in this fast-paced adventure full of wit and warmth. A mesmerising story, filled with magic and dragons, family and friendship, puzzles and spells. Startlingly good and packed with the most wonderful characters and hold-your-breath twists and turns, plus my very favourite fictional librarian, we couldn’t put it down. Guppy Publishing are fast becoming a firm favourite of ours. They have an eye for a fantastic story and we are so excited to see what they create next. Beautifully illustrated by Karl James Mountford, this is a stunning book that would make a perfect gift for the young adventurers in your life.

About the book:
Bronte Mettlestone is ten years old when her parents are killed by pirates. This does not bother her much: her parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby. She has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle, with assistance from the Butler, and has spent a pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons.

Now, however, her parents have left detailed instructions for Bronte in their will. (Instructions that, annoyingly, have been reinforced with faery cross-stitch, which means that if she doesn’t complete them, terrible things could happen) She must travel the kingdoms alone, delivering gifts to ten other aunts: a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard, a veterinarian aunt who specializes in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship, and a former rock star aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom. But as she travels from aunt to aunt, Bronte suspects there might be more to this journey than the simple delivery of treasure; though little does she suspect that she will have to play such a big part in the extraordinary events that follow.

You can get your copy here.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves…

On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell.

But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it. When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is…

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge is a deliciously dark exploration of identity and how far you will go to be true to yourself. It is an exploration of religion and the damaging effects of power, as well as a celebration of the life-giving power of stories.

The best fantasy has strong links with reality and Deeplight explores the teenage experience of identity and the confusions and contradictions of life beautifully. Dealing with themes of power, manipulation, bullying and the trials of friendship, it is about learning who you are and fighting for your independence.

With all the mystery and adventure we have come to expect from Hardinge, Deeplight doesn’t disappoint.

You can order your copy here.

The International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason and Katy Riddell

An epic adventure with big feet and an even bigger heart!

Ella is in the Himalayas with her uncle searching for yeti. But what seems like the adventure of a lifetime is cut short when she realizes that these secretive creatures might not want to be found.

Tick knows it’s against yeti law to approach humans. So when some arrive on the mountain, why does he find himself peering through the trees to get a closer look? What Tick doesn’t know is that his actions will set off a series of events that threaten the existence of yeti all over the world. What can he do to make things right? Just when all hope seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form…

Brilliant for readers who are looking for something a bit different, this is fantastic storytelling, written with humour and passion. We can’t wait to see what Katy Riddell’s illustrations add to the story.

The International Yeti Collective has strong themes of conservation and the importance of respecting nature and the balance of the environment, making it a strong contender for a class read for environment topics. The yeti’s are portrayed as peaceful creatures who have a deep understanding of the ecosystems they live in. They have an active role in protecting the fine balance of nature, unlike the ignorant, greedy humans who the yeti see as destroyers. A beautiful lesson in sustainability and our responsibility to protect the environments we live in.

The first in a new series, we are very excited to see what happens next.

You can order your copy here.

Free by Sam Usher

This is a hug in book form. A warm and gentle text with a repeated refrain that echoes the lovingly rendered relationship between a child and his grandad. It is cosy cups of tea and shared triple decker sandwiches and a quiet visitor who wants to join the fun.

Boy and Grandad take care of a little bird. When it gets better, Grandad puts it outside, but it keeps hopping back into the house, following Boy wherever he goes.

Boy wants to keep it, but Grandad says it must return to its natural habitat in the wild where it can spread its wings and be free. And so begins an exhilarating journey into the rainforest! The first in a new quartet of enchanting picture books where a boy and his beloved grandad discover the wonder of the natural world.

Sam Usher’s beautiful illustrations will leave you wanting to gather your family together, set up a tea party and begin your own nature adventure.

We love this book and can’t wait to see where Boy and Grandad go next.

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.

Be More Bernard by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley

Perfect for fans of Jim Field, Rabbityness, Dogs Don’t Do Ballet and Giraffes Can’t Dance. Be More Bernard is a fabulously funny story about finding your own groove and being yourself, encouraging us all to chase our dreams and embrace our differences. We love Kate Hindley’s comic illustrations and have all been inspired to get our dancing shoes on.

When the other bunnies bounced, I bounced. When they hopped, I hopped. When they slept, I did too. Like them, I dreamed. But MY dreams weren’t the same. They were less . . . rabbity.

Bernard has decided that he’s not going to be like all the other bunnies any more. He’s not going to twitch his nose and prick his ears. And while others might dream of carrots, Bernard’s dreams are altogether more…disco!

He starts small, but when he finally gets to groove with grace and jive with joy at Bertie and Brenda’s Bunny Ball, Bernard shows the world that being yourself is the very best thing a bunny can be. From the author of the Sainsbury’s Book Award-winning You Must Bring a Hat and the illustrator of the brand-new Treacle Street series!

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 Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

From acclaimed author and Costa winner Hilary McKay comes The Time of Green Magic: a beautiful, spell-binding novel about family, magic, an old house and a mysterious visitor…

Abi and her two step-brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house. Abi, reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window.

Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadows . . . Their busy parents see none of it – but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help. Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from – and how to get it back there?

Hilary McKay writes family relationships beautifully and her characters are a joy to spend time with. She creates young children perfectly and Louis is alive and leaping from the page from his very first sentence. The Time of Green Magic has all McKay’s trademark warmth and wit and is a book that hugs you as you read it.

This is an enchanting story of a blended family coming together and muddling along through life as best they can. It is a celebration of the power and magic of reading and the strength of imagination. A masterclass in writing and an absolute delight to read.

Published 5th September by Pan Macmillan, you can order your copy here.