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 Space We’re In by Katya Balen and Laura Carlin

“We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too.

Frank is ten. He likes cottage pie and football and cracking codes.

Max is five. He eats only Quavers and some colours are too bright for him and if he has to wear a new T-shirt he melts down down down. Sometimes Frank wishes Mum could still do huge paintings of stars and asteroids like she used to, but since Max was born she just doesn’t have time. When tragedy hits Frank and Max’s lives like a comet, can Frank piece together a universe in which he and Max aren’t light years apart?

This jaw-dropping, heartbreaking and hopeful novel from debut author Katya Balen will remind you we are all made of stardust.”

This is going to be very special!

Brilliantly told in an authentic young voice that is raw and compelling, this is a truly immersive read. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it celebrates the power of friendship, play and imagination in finding your voice and being comfortable with your place in the world. It brings together art and science, bullying and friendship, family and loss to create something beautiful and uplifting. We can’t wait to see how Laura Carlin’s illustrations combine with  such beautiful, powerful writing. 

Brilliant for schools to promote empathy and understanding of autism and its impact on families. Readers will love deciphering the codes to read the chapter headings. The perfect read for fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Published 5th September by Bloomsbury, you can pre-order your copy here.

Tamsin Winter Guest Post – Jemima Small Versus the Universe

Jemima Small is funny and smart. She knows a lot of things. Like the fact that she's made of 206 bones, over 600 muscles and trillions of cells.

What she doesn't know is how that can be true and yet she can still sometimes feel like nothing... Or how being made to join the school's "special" healthy lifestyle group - aka Fat Club - could feel any less special.

But Jemima also knows that the biggest stars in the universe are the brightest. And maybe it's her time to shine...

Jemima Small Versus the Universe is a fabulously powerful story of body-positivity and self-confidence. It celebrates the power of positive representation and role models, and the importance of being yourself. Jemima is a fantastic character with a funny and accessible voice. Witty and fun but also painfully honest, this book is perfect for fans of Cath Howe and Catherine Wilkins. It's perfectly suited to year 6 and above and would make a fantastic summer holiday read. We adore it and want to share it with all our customers.

We asked Jemima author Tamsin Winter to tell us a bit more about the book, why she wrote it and what she hopes it will bring to its readers.

Over to Tamsin...

I came up with the idea for Jemima Small Versus the Universe after reading an article about a girl who’d been sent a letter from her school telling her she was overweight. For days afterwards, I couldn’t get the article out of my head. She was an eleven-year-old girl, getting a letter saying that her body wasn’t okay. And worse of all, that letter came from her school. I imagined how that girl must have felt, and how I would have felt getting a letter like that at her age.

It was a time when my body was starting to change in so many ways; a time I began to feel those uncomfortable prickles of self-consciousness on my skin. A time I already had blisters from wearing shoes that were too small because I was worried my feet looked too big. And before I knew it, I had started writing Jemima’s story.

Jemima Small was bold and smart and funny from the very beginning. She is awesome in a million different ways. But because of how she’s treated for her size, she feels like she can’t measure up. Jemima’s hasn’t been an easy story to write. A lot of the research I did meant I had to read about body-shaming, of the sad statistics about how negatively many girls perceive their bodies, about the bullying that young people face because their bodies aren’t exactly the same as other people’s.

I thought about the many films I watched and books I read when I was younger about a fat or ugly or plain character undergoing some kind of dramatic transformation and finally being accepted. And the books and films that poked fun at people because of their size. I wanted Jemima’s story to be one of transformation – but not a physical one.

In Jemima Small Versus the Universe, Jemima begins by wishing she could be invisible. And by dropping out of auditioning for her favourite TV quiz show because she thinks no one wants to see her on TV. But eventually, she learns to like who she sees in the mirror, without changing a thing. Okay, she dyes her hair seven shades of neon at one point, but nothing apart from that!

Being able to look in the mirror and appreciate your body for the extraordinary elements and energy it holds, to look yourself in the eye and say, “My body is unique and precious and powerful,” to feel your heart beat in your chest, as it will approximately 2.5 billion times in your lifetime, like a warrior, to hold your head high and decide not to be invisible - well, that’s what I hope readers get from this book.

Tamsin Winter

Thank you, Tamsin, for sharing your thoughts with us. We can't wait to share Jemima Small Versus the Universe with the world.

You can order your copy through our online shop here.

You can follow Tamsin on twitter here.

Jemima Small Versus the Universe – Q&A with Tamsin Winter

Jemima Small is funny and super smart. She knows a lot of things. Like the fact that she’s made of 206 bones, over 600 muscles and trillions of cells. What she doesn’t know is how that can be true and yet she can still feel like nothing… or how being made to join the school’s “special” healthy lifestyle group – A.K.A Fat Club – could feel any less special, and make her question her dream of applying for her favourite TV quiz show. But she also knows that the biggest stars in the universe are the brightest. And maybe it’s her time to shine…
A brilliantly funny and touching new novel exploring bullying, body confidence and, most importantly, learning how to be happy with who you are.

We love this brilliantly accessible book about the power of positive representation and role models. Witty and fun but also painfully honest, it will appeal to fans of Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Howe.

We asked our young reviewer, Mollie (10), to give us her verdict and to pose some questions for Tamsin Winter. Read on to see what they both have to say about this stunner.

MOLLIE’S REVIEW

Great read, really makes you feel empowered, sad, inspired, angry and happy all at the same time. It feels so real, like you’re actually talking to Jemima about her experience. It’s so wrong, sad and sort of makes you angry body shaming is happening to beautiful, lovely people. If you read this book you will realise just how wrong and horrible it is to body shame or be body shamed. I would recommend this book to confident readers from the age of 9 and I think you would definitely enjoy it if you have been bullied, are being bullied or just like a good read with wonderful descriptions. You might like it if you like the Girl Online books. Overall it is a fantastic read! – Mollie aged 10

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG, TAMSIN

THANK YOU MOLLIE FOR THIS AMAZING REVIEW! ☺ ☺ ☺

M: What was your main inspiration for Jemima Small Versus the Universe?

T: I’d read a newspaper article about a girl who received a letter from her school telling her she was overweight, and it really stayed with me. The article was written very much from the mother’s perspective – about how outraged she was (quite rightly, in my opinion). But there wasn’t really anything about how the girl felt. I can remember that feeling of awkwardness and self-consciousness about my body that sort of hit me aged 9 or 10, and wishing I could look like someone else. I guess I wanted to write a story about a girl who experiences that kind of feeling. But who is definitely a lot smarter than I was. 

M: Are there any characters you feel you connect with?

T: The story is written from Jemima’s perspective, so naturally I feel very connected to her. Anytime she is laughing or crying in the book, you can be sure that’s exactly what I was doing while I was writing it. She made me rock with laughter, and made me shed enormous tears of sadness. Writing the final chapters was a strange mixture of emotions, because I felt so proud of her, but I was sad to be letting her go. My other favourite characters are Jemima’s auntie Luna and her “Fat Club” teacher, Gina, although in very different ways. Luna’s belief in connecting with the universe is something I believe in myself. Gina’s relentless smiling and enthusiasm always lifted my spirits when I was having a tough writing day. As did Miki’s practical jokes! 

M: What was your favourite part of writing your book?

T: I have to say the ending! It was tough getting Jemima through some of the difficult scenes, particularly when she was treated cruelly by people at school, and strangers. The scenes where she is missing her mum, who left when Jemima was six, were exceptionally heartbreaking to write. So, writing those final few chapters were a joy. There’s also a scene on a cliff top between Jemima and her brother Jasper which felt like the writing equivalent of a hug. I am rather fond of Jasper, despite his ferocious showing off.

M: Have you got any writing tips for kids like me who want to be writers?

T: Don’t give up! That’s the main one. Keep practising. No piece of writing is a failure. It is a step towards getting better and finding your own style. Don’t try to write like anyone else because no one can write like you. And read lots of books, obviously.

M: How do you make up your characters?

T: My characters kind of appear inside my head and then never leave. It’s an odd feeling sometimes, because they feel so real it’s like poking your head into someone else’s life. I do a lot of character profiling, and for the main characters I always write a little timeline of their life, whether or not it will be referenced in the book. It was a lot of fun to do this for the Small family, as they have so many weird and wonderful members, like Jemima’s great-great auntie Lilian. By the time I’m editing the book, the characters don’t feel made up any more.

M: How do you make your characters, situations and their world so realistic and convincing?

T: I draw maps of all the locations in my books, including a floor plan of the houses and the school. I sketched the wooden cabin Auntie Luna lives in, even down to the fairy lights and where the trees are in the garden! Imagining the characters as real people, and the places they inhabit as real places is a really important part of the writing process for me. I am also exceptionally forgetful, so it helps me remember where on earth they are supposed to be! I also do a lot of research. I interview people, read articles, blogs, books. Jasper’s magic tricks are based on magicians I’d watched on YouTube. There’s one line Jemima says about Jasper’s pet tarantula and I tracked down a pest controller to answer my very-much hypothetical question! Little details like that matter, even in a fictional world. If it doesn’t feel real to me, it won’t feel real to my readers. 

M: Is there a place where you like to go to come up with ideas and write?

T: I’d like to say there is a beautiful lake or something that I sit by and ideas appear like clouds, but it doesn’t work like that for me. I always have lots of ideas buzzing around in my head, lots of lines, fragments of conversations, so the notes page in my phone is always full, because it tends to be very late at night when I am supposed to be asleep. If I’m struggling with writing a scene, I usually head to a forest for a walk. It usually brings me some kind of inspiration or comfort. I also just love walking in wellies.

BookNook: And the killer question that we ask everyone who does a guest piece with us at The Book Nook…Wow us with something we didn’t already know…

T: I used to be afraid of the sea when I was little, mainly because my big sister would shout “SHARK!” as a joke whenever we were swimming in it. I couldn’t even bear to dip my toes in the sea. Weirdly, learning to scuba dive got me over my sea phobia. A few summers’ ago, when I was travelling across Indonesia, I took a boat trip and went scuba diving.  Just as I’d put my mask in the water, I spotted a tiger shark. It must have been five metres long. It was an exhilarating experience. Probably my favourite scuba diving memory. But for a moment, I was transported back to my childhood and my sister’s voice yelling dramatically: “SHARK!” and then laughing as I swam for my life towards the pebble beach. As Jemima Small Versus the Universe is set by the sea, I had to sneak in a reference to it! 

Thank you to Tamsin and Mollie for a fab review and Q&A. Coming soon we have a guest post from Tamsin Winter about body image and positivity. Watch this space!

You can get your copy from our online shop here.

Heartstream by Tom Pollock

A taut psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror. Cat is in love. Always the sensible one, she can’t believe that she’s actually dating, not to mention dating a star.

But the fandom can’t know. They would eat her alive. And first at the buffet would definitely be her best friend, Evie.

Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness, and her grief following her death. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable. But on the day of Amy’s mother’s funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time.

Who is she? A crazed fan? What does she want? Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.

Tom Pollock’s previous book, White Rabbit, Red Wolf was a Book Nook favourite, so we knew we were in for a treat with Heartstream. Pollock’s work is unique and fiercely intelligent; you know you’re going to get something wildly different and fresh.

Heartstream examines obsession, online community and belonging. It imagines the future of social media and explores the concept of how much of ourselves we share online – and when it crosses the line and becomes too much. The examples of the anonymity of online bullying are brutal and wholly relevant.

Heartstream is reminiscent of Years and Years and Black Mirror and shares their tension and visions of a technological online future. But it is when it looks at the relationships between all the characters- their uncertainty and confusion and soaring, conflicting emotions – that it really holds your heart.

This is a gripping, whirlwind of a book that will play with your emotions and keep you guessing until the very last page.

You can get your copy from our online shop here.

Anna At War by Helen Peters

As life for German Jews becomes increasingly perilous, Anna’s parents put her on a train leaving for England. But the war follows her to Kent, and soon Anna finds herself caught up in a web of betrayal and secrecy.

How can she prove whose side she’s on when she can’t tell anyone the truth?

But actions speak louder than words, and Anna has a dangerous plan…

A brilliant and moving wartime adventure from the author of Evie’s Ghost. Cover illustration by Daniela Terrazzini.

We absolutely love this emotional rollercoaster of a read; at times moving and then filled to the brim with hold-your-breath tension. Perfect for schools, Anna At War is beautifully relevant and would work particularly well with topics looking at refugees, kindness and empathy. A brilliant study of bravery, family and friendship. But be warned! Tissues will be required.

You can get your copy from our online shop here.

Rumblestar – Abi Elphinstone

Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.

All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms. 

And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?

Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this brand NEW series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered…

We adore this book! Abi Elphinstone has an incredible imagination and a real skill for world building. Filled with Faraway Tree style magic and a fair amount of wit, Rumblestar is wise and full of heart. Casper is an unlikely hero and Utterly is a fierce engineering prodigy – both fantastic characters, role-models and gender-stereotype-squashers. Follow them through glorious darkness, mild-peril and edge of your seat adventure. Think Narnia meets Maleficent. We cant wait to see what happens next in The Unmapped Chronicles series.

You can get your copy of this fantastic new book here.

Brian the Brave

“Let’s all be friends!” says Brian…. But Stanley only likes sheep with black wool, Hamish, Cassidy and Lou think black wool and white wool are rubbish – while Tracey and Frank only want sheep with horns in their gang.

Then Brian bumps into a WOLF – and he knows he has to get the sheep to ACT TOGETHER!

A fun book about friendship and accepting our differences. We love this gentle introduction to understanding diversity.

Book review- Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet

Welcome, readers, to the imaginative brain of Omar! You might not know me yet, but once you open the pages of this book you’ll laugh so hard that snot will come out of your nose (plus you might meet a dragon and a zombie – what more could you want?).

My parents decided it would be a good idea to move house AND move me to a new school at the same time.

As if I didn’t have a hard enough time staying out of trouble at home, now I’ve also got to try and make new friends. What’s worse, the class bully seems to think I’m the perfect target. At least Eid’s around the corner which means a feast (YAY) and presents (DOUBLE YAY). Well, as long as I can stay in Mum and Dad’s good books long enough…

Previously published as ‘THE MUSLIMS’, this was the winner of the Little Rebels Award in June 2018. The text has been revised, expanded with new scenes and re-illustrated.

We LOVE this Tom Gates- style book for younger readers. Perfect for 7+ and full of fun, it’s also beautifully diverse and gives a great insight into Muslim culture, promoting empathy and understanding. Brilliant for school book corners and fab for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.