An immersive, old-fashioned fantasy adventure, full of drama and magic. I read this book in one heady gulp, captivated by its teenager narrator, Stella and her longing to be someone and do something important, something young teens will deeply relate to. Can she make a different, no matter how small? A joy from start to finish, this book is narrated by the remarkable Sally Jones, an ape with profound insights and ability. Against all odds, Sally must fight to clear his name. An adventure tale like no other, a story to get truly lost in.
Now he and fellow space baby twins, Orion and Libra are preparing for their first trip home. But their journey has far reaching consequences. A heady blend of science fiction and mystery, written with confidence and verve. Ghalib and his family live in Kobani, a town in Syria near Aleppo. After daily attacks by ISIS his family decide to flee the bombings and travel by minibus to Aleppo where they start the long and arduous walk towards the border with Turkey.
Mitchell spent a week volunteering at the Jungle Camp at Calais and her descriptions of the camp ring with authenticity and truth. A striking, honest book with real heart. Winner of many prestigious awards for her previous young adult novels, Sarah Crossan is one of our most accomplished writers. This book packs a devastating punch. What he hears and learns will change his life forever. Written in free verse, this compelling, thought-provoking novel is a book I will never forget. What she knows could get her killed but is she brave enough to speak out?
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A beautifully produced collection of dark, feminist fairy tale retellings with sinuous line drawings by Karen Vaughan. Many of the tales are written in the second person, which is a hard voice to pull off but Sullivan does it with aplomb. John Green is best known for his previous bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars which was made into a successful movie. The story is told by Aza, Holmes, a sixteen-year-old with anxiety. Although it can be a little slow in places, Green really understands teenagers and Aza is beautifully drawn. Ben is determined to uncover a family secret so he gets himself sent to a centre for troubled youth, Knockmore Farm.
Here he finds out more than he bargained for. I adored this bright, sparky book with its strong characters and knock out plot. Each is very different and two of them fall in love with each other. Nicholls deftly handles a wide range of topics — empowerment of women, poverty, sexuality — in this warm, wise novel.
If the child in your life loves trains, this quirky picturebook is perfect. This large format book is a celebration of the wonder of the world, both natural and man-made, from oceans to rainforests, cities to villages.
If your child loves animals, this is the perfect gift, a generously sized hardback featuring all manner of life, from beetles and spiders, fish and whales. The delicious watercolour and ink illustrations by newcomer, Lorna Scobie are a joy to share. Suitable for all levels of Irish, it covers topics like the weather, clothes and sport in glowing colour. If your child is interested in history, this charming story of one remarkable family is ideal. Born in Cork, the Boole sisters went on to become novelists and scientists, defying conventions of the time. The illustrations alone are a work of art.
Both Mcfarlane and Morris see nature as strange, beautiful and magical and these lyrical poems and accompanying watercolours are ideal for reading aloud and sharing with children and adults who still have wonder in their hearts. This striking book brings together fifty women from the world of science, from Marie Curie to Jane Goodall. Although the book is quite text heavy, there are lots of quotes and snippets of information on the pages, and the biographical information never seems overwhelming.
What makes the book a real winner is the distinctive design. Jackson is a space expert and the exuberant illustrations by students from the London College of Communication send this fascinating book into orbit.
I was at a lunch party last week. It was being held to celebrate the end of the sailing season so many of the people there spend their weekends and free time sailing competitively. So I was sitting with this man and he asked me what I did — I said I was a professional writer. Anything I might have heard of?
Imagine asking an architect has she designed any buildings recently. Any buildings I might have heard about? Have you done any sums recently? It was a very polite party. He looked a little confused so I continued. You spend your weekends sailing, I spend most of my free time writing. Nice man in fact, very engaging to talk to.
You can find the clip at the end of this blog post. Yet they make the time to write and attend classes or mentoring sessions. Lucy spoke about her love of art from a very early age and showed us some of her childhood drawings. Hear, hear!
I like to use bold, bright colours. It took her 5 years at art college to find her style and to be confident with colour. Lucy has a set routine. She works on her creative projects in the morning and does her admin in the afternoons. It took both Rob Biddulph and Chris Judge over five years to get their first books published. Rob likes picturebooks as he gets control over his work.
It helps children join in, he explains. He has been known to complete a book in 3 weeks. Anna spoke about her Irish suffragette books set in the early 20th century, which she wrote because she wanted to read about teen suffragettes herself. She tries to make history interesting for modern readers by using a light hand with her research and plenty of humour.
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Her book, The Making of Mollie is well worth seeking out. Kate DiCamillo gave a stirring talk about the wonders of the world. She spoke about a childhood trip on an glass bottomed boat and the secret world under her feet, of fish and turtles.
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Then she gets a 10 editorial letter back. Find a way to make a deal with yourself — work out how you are going to do the writing you need to do.
There is a mistaken notion that writing should be easy or it should come out right the first time. If you do anything in the arts you need to be prepared to pay attention all the time, keep your eyes and ears open, your mind and your heart. Poet and picturebook writer, Joseph Coelho attended a comic writing workshop at ITV when he was a child and was told he was a really good writer — this was the 1st time someone had seen him as a writer. They certainly changed my life, he said. She shared her journey with the audience — a journey from darkness into light — and talked about how books can help children make sense of the world and be seen.
James Mayhew gave a fascinating talk about flying carpets, the Arabian Nights and other traditional tales and finally Sally Gardner talked about living with dyslexia and how she wants to help dyslexic children navigate the world. It was a most stimulating and though-provoking weekend and thanks to all at CBI for their hard work in putting the conference together.
I'm delighted to welcome Judi Curtin to my blog. As well as being a bestselling writer, Judi is also one of my dearest friends. We go back a long way as Judi explains below. And they are never too little to listen. From birth they can distinguish between different sounds, and as they grow, they will try to replicate the sounds they hear and begin to make sounds of their own. A good nursery rhyme collection is a great place to start. The children are held, tickled and snuggled. Physical contact is very important for healthy emotional and physical growth.
Happy reading! Clear, uncluttered pages with bright colours, or striking black and white illustrations. Avoid fussy books with too much action on the page.
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