NEW TITLES

Our reviewers some of the powerful fiction published for older readers this month, as well as highlighting some enticing non-fiction for older readers.

National Theatre: All About Theatre
National Theatre

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406358698

The National Theatre's 'All About Theatre' book is a brilliantly colorful book full of pictures, interviews and fascinating facts about the theatre. Working closely with the various departments housed at the National Theatre in London, this well thought out text gives students a genuine look into the effort and skills used in bringing a text from page to stage. A great resource for KS3 students, and even as an introduction to stagecraft KS4, it discusses a wide range of topics including genre, staging and even how to cry on cue! What I particularly like is the effort that has gone into promoting the skills of the technicians and, as a teacher of drama, working with children who are considering a role in technical theatre, this resource is welcome find! The book is clearly laid out and each section receives the same amount of detail. Designers' talk about their process and the challenges involved and there is a very useful glossary of terms at the back. As well as interviews with well-known faces and names such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who) there are lots of great photographs from popular performances like War Horse, Treasure Island and the smash hit One Man,Two Guvnors. I think this is a must read for anyone with an interest in the theatre and students will enjoy using this text for homework and research. Well done to Marina MacIntyre, NT's director Rufus Norris and his team for producing such a well thought out book. 128 pages / Ages 9-adult / Reviewed by Jodi Swan, teacher

National Theatre: All About Theatre
National Geographic Kids Infopedia 2016 (Infopedia )
National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids

ISBN 9781426322440

Infopedia 2016, created by National Geographic Kids, is a wonderful information book that can be used across KS2 and up to KS3. The subjects it covers include science, geography, culture, animals, nature and climate change, among others. There is a 'fun and games' section full of quizzes and jokes, but the book's real value is in its layout with an exciting design and bite-sized chunks of information that will keep readers aged happily browsing. The magazine-style format comes with the kinds of headlines you'd expect - fun but informative, taking a slightly different approach to the subject matter, for example 'Secrets of the Spirit Bear' and 'Freaky Frogs' which are bound to catch readers' attention. The format, a rather chunky soft-back, is easy to handle and carry around. This is the kind of book that you want to leave on library tables to encourage browsing as it has bags of appeal. 352 pages / Ages 8-13 years / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

National Geographic Kids Infopedia 2016 (Infopedia )
Hilda and the Troll
Luke Pearson

Flying Eye Books

ISBN 9781909263789

I've fallen in love with Hilda - and so have my students! Hilda is the hero in Luke Pearson's Hildafolk series of graphic novels: a gloriously quirky girl with huge eyes, blue-green hair and stick-thin legs. She sets off on various adventures, encountering mythical creatures and scary situations along the way, but always approaching them with courage and verve. The muted colours of the artworks are lovely, and the book design is superb, with good paper and all the qualities that make you want to keep and treasure a book. I handed over some of Hilda's stories to my students - all girls from Year 7 to Year 9 and either struggling or reluctant readers - and asked them to dip in and let me know what they thought. And silence fell. Twenty minutes later, I asked the girls to take a break and give me their first impression. All I got were a few comments along the lines of 'I really like it', before they buried their noses back in the books. Not another word was uttered before the bell rang. They all asked if they could read another book in the series, and some girls wanted to take the books home to enjoy again. I can't give a finer recommendation than that! 40 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Camilla de la Bedoyere, reading specialist.

Hilda and the Troll
Getting Away with it
Anne Cassidy

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781124925

Mark and Katie sneak off to a club on a school night, but miss the last bus back. Mark decides to steal a car to get them home - with tragic consequences when Katie is killed in a crash. Mark is haunted by his failure to look after Katie, and soon the police come knocking... Young adults are notoriously poor at assessing risk and thinking through the consequences of their actions. This tale provides a good opportunity for discussing risk, decision-making and responsibility, and can also be used to challenge students to take the opening scenario and develop the story themselves. The action is fast-paced, particularly in the first half, and the story is told in a linear style so it is easy for struggling readers to follow the plot. Getting Away With It contains short sentences and simple vocabulary that is perfect for developing reading stamina and fluency and so is ideal for students who are learning English. I would recommend allowing a minimum of two lessons to read and discuss this book. 72 pages / Reading age 8, interest age Teen / Reviewed by Camilla de la Bedoyere, reading specialist.

Getting Away with it
Dangerous Lies
Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471125089

Teenage girls will love this; just the right amount of sexual frisson to ignite this modern day romantic thriller. A vital witness to a drug related murder, Estella's life in Philadelphia is over. To keep her safe until she can testify at the trial of Danny Balando, she is now Stella Gordon spending the summer with retired cop Carmina in a rural backwater of Nebraska. An alien environment away from her boyfriend Reed, her friends, the shopping mall and her mother. Everything is new and unfamiliar and Stella hates it. However, there is Chet. Good looking, friendly and obviously interested in her, Stella's resolve to remain faithful to Reed starts to crumble. It's refreshing to read a sound debate on 'is there a God?'. Through Stella, Becca explores these bigger issues allowing the reader to continue the reasoning for themselves. Other questions are given a similar airing- death, guilt and forgiveness are discussed by Carmina and Stella as each grapples with their past. This is thought-provoking writing for girls who are in the midst of establishing their own identity. It is also an excellent thriller with well-drawn, believable characters, and an unexpected twist in the tale. 379 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Sue Gillham, librarian.

Dangerous Lies
Hell and High Water
Tanya Landman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406356618

Tanya Landman turns to a British setting for her latest novel, set in 18th century Devon. Caleb, a mixed race lad, is left alone when his puppeteer father is unjustly convicted of a crime and sent for transportation. Caleb finds his estranged aunt, and lives with her and her step daughter Lettie. A lot of the novel deals with injustice, and the inequality of rich and poor, in a world where the local gentry has everyone with any power - churchmen, lawyers, judges - involved in his web of crime and corruption. The question Caleb struggles with, after he finds a body on the beach, and starts to discover what is going on, is how the poor can ever win when everyone who should be able to help has a vested interest in keeping quiet. This on top of the racism Caleb suffers from people of all classes, who are unfamiliar with anyone not like them. His friendship with Lettie, which gradually develops into a strong relationship, helps Caleb to persevere, and justice is finally done, although not everyone survives. The two main characters are well portrayed, and Lettie is a strong female lead, whose physical as well as emotional strength plays an important part in the story. Caleb is vulnerable, but has a strong sense of justice, which is what gets him through. Some of the more minor characters seem a little two-dimensional, but the plot carries the reader along. The historical detail is good, creating a believable setting, and the contrast between the busy city and the quiet village on the coast is well portrayed. The details about the Punch and Judy show, and the special effects Caleb's father used, were fascinating. So, a good exciting story, with a depth of well researched historical background, and some important moral issues. 320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Carol Williams, librarian.

Hell and High Water
The Light That Gets Lost
Natasha Carthew

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408835869

Natasha Carthew's debut Winter Damage marked her out as a writer to watch and her new novel, When the Light Gets Lost, delivers on this promise with a powerful and thoughtful look at revenge and redemption. When Trey witnesses the murder of his parents as a child, he spends his teenaged years planning his revenge. He is eventually sent to the correctional Camp Kernow for young people, where he plans to enact that revenge. The regime of farming and butchering at the camp is tough but gradually, Trey begins to bond with a small group of friends and to see his beyond his desire for revenge. However, when the adults in charge of the camp abandon their charges, events soon get out of control and violence errupts. With echoes of Lord of the Flies, we watch as the young people form their own structures and gangs, inflicting ever-greater violence until any form of order is gone. As events move forward, Trey has to decide whose side he is one and whether it is his past, or his future, that will win through. Carthew has an instinctive understanding of how teenagers feel and react during these formative years and, unsympathetic as he is at the start, she draws the reader into a real understanding of Trey's desire for revenge and we care for his future. This is partly because the book is delivered in the first person (Trey's regional accent is worth persevering with even if some readers struggle at first) which means we can bond with a character who lets few others come close. Boys might seem tough up front; Carthew expertly explores what lies beneath this bravado. 272 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

The Light That Gets Lost
The End (The Enemy Book 7)
Charlie Higson

Penguin Books Ltd

ISBN 9780141362144

This is the seventh and final book in a series which began with The Enemy. Everyone aged over 13 has developed an illness, those not killed by it are now mindless zombies with a need for the flesh of children. For survival the children group together, forming tribes in defendable buildings such as the Tower of London. The plot arc of reuniting brother and sister Sam and Ella that began in the first book continues, as does that of developing a cure which was introduced in the 5th. To this is added the discovery that some of the adults have developed a rudimentary intelligence and are gathering with the aim of killing all of the children. The divergent groups of children must come together to fight in a final pitched battle.& This series is one of the few for children/young people that can truly be described as a horror story. The violence and suddenness with which some of the characters meet their end is shocking. The author pulls no punches and characters perceived as heroes can be as quickly killed off as any minor character. It is this that has made the series so compelling, and the final book is no exception. Despite occasional plot recaps it really is necessary to read the previous books to fully understand what is going, know who the characters are and care about them. 480 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Kathryn Flagner, librarian.

The End (The Enemy Book 7)
Monster
C. J. Skuse

Mira Ink

ISBN 9781848453890

At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she'd face. Until her brother, Seb's, disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory's assorted misfits. Trapped at the school with only the Matron and the school dog for protection, Nash and the others suddenly find themselves embroiled in a fight for survival. Is the Beast of Bathory to blame? Or is the monster far closer to home than they ever expected? One of the most gripping things about this novel is the fact Skuse creates a warm, comfortable setting against the backdrop of Christmas and beautiful countryside which lulls the reader into a false sense of security. The characters are a real mix of the strange and sympathetic meaning you can never tell who is friend and who is foe until the final pages. This book is a skillfully crafted rollercoaster of excitement, fear and shocks. The book balances the thrills and terror with humour and great characters you genuinely care about, meaning each page keeps you hooked until the very end. Skuse begs the question, are Monsters real or are people the real reason we shouldn't feel safe? I was hooked from the first chapter and would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone with a strong stomach and a love of the strange and terrible! 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by: Caroline Mitchell

Monster

ISBN 9781784295868

The day after attending a party at the home of a friend the parents of 17 year old Emma find her semi-conscious on the front lawn. The next day in school all of her classmates, including her closest friends, refuse to let her sit with them and won't speak with her. Emma doesn't understand this behaviour until a teacher takes her to one side to speak with her about a video that has been posted on YouTube, showing an unconscious Emma being raped and sexually assaulted by a group of boys and young men. As the case is taken up by the media as an example of the failures of modern society and Emma and her parents are ostracised by people in their small Irish town her family starts to fall apart. It is made clear to Emma that she can 'make everything right' by saying that she consented to the activities shown in the video. In Emma the author has created a character who is unsympathetic to the reader, she manipulates her friends, and attended the party with the aim of having sex with a particular boy she knew would be there. It is because of the nature of Emma's character that the issues of consensual sex and the idea that some girls or women are asking for it, can be explored, and the story explores the issue well. The relationships between Emma and her friends and family are complex and the school pecking order and cliques are realistic. Emma doesn't remember the assault so the reader only sees it through her eyes on YouTube. The language used to describe it is hard hitting and the attack is vicious, degrading and shocking. 352 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Kathryn Flagner, librarian.