NEW TITLES

From reading about the suffragette movement to getting tips for writing romance novels, there is a range of titles aimed at teenaged readers this month.

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
David Roberts

Two Hoots

ISBN 9781509839674

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of women's right to vote in the UK. The introduction of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 meant that women who were over the age of 30, property owners and graduates from British universities were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time. David Roberts has produced a beautifully illustrated history of the women's suffrage movement which is both enlightening and fascinating. Starting with a clear explanation of what 'suffrage' is, the book looks at the development of the suffrage movement, bringing to life many of the key figures on each side of the debate and from all walks of life. The book contains names which are familiar - Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emily Davison - but also those that are less well known - Ellen Pitfield, Muriel Matters and Ethel Smyth. It introduces those of both sexes, from all walks of life, and the role they played in 'the battle for equality'. Presenting the history of the movement in a way that is easy to understand, clearly explaining the difference between terms like 'suffragette' and 'suffragist', for example, the book does not shy away from the atrocities committed against women or the destructive acts committed by them. Referred to as 'torture' and a 'horror', force feeding, for example, is explained succinctly, yet the disturbing details of this process is not dwelt on, offering just the right balance of information for younger readers. The illustrations are wonderful, some poignant, some humorous, all depicting the energy and commitment of these women to the cause they believed in so passionately. This is an inspiring, excellent introduction to such a significant time in our history, a tribute to all those involved, not just a few well known figures. 128 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
Storm
Sarah Driver

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405284691

After reading the first two books in The Huntress series I could not wait to get between the pages for this final instalment. Oh boy, I was not disappointed. The story and its characters continue to be excellent and keeps the reader turning the pages to see how Mouse and her crew battle the evils and horrors of Trianukka. The adventure in Storm is slightly darker than the first two books. There is a lot more fighting and death, which at times left me tearful as I got so involved in Mouse's despair although I can't say too much as I will easily add a spoiler. I also found the magic of whale song, beast chatter, and spirits engaging and mystical along with Mouse's narrative, which is charming and heart-felt. However, I do have one little grip...where book 2 picked up straight from book 1, Storm picks up around a month later, which could lead to some confusion if its been a while between reading the series. Sarah Driver has got her world building and pace right for her target audience of 9+. The book is just so well written. I also felt that research into indigenous people and their history and culture was brilliantly portrayed, with added information at the back of the book for readers to do further research if they want to. I have really enjoyed reading this series, it's fantasy at its best. 400 well written pages with short gripping chapters, making the novel suitable for 9+ confident readers and older, less confident readers. The whole Huntress series would be great for book clubs or intervention reading as there are so many topics to discuss and explore. Storm is a thrilling ending to this trilogy and I'd recommend it as a must read! 400 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Storm
Dark Sky Park: Poems from the Edge of Nature
Philip Gross

Otter-Barry Books Ltd

ISBN 9781910959886

Philip Gross has chosen to celebrate some of the most unusual and unknown aspects of the natural world in this mesmerising anthology which had me wondering, learning, looking and so much more. Quite apart from being captivated by his poetic voice, I came away all the richer for what I learnt about worms, tardigrades, terns, even ivy! It's a collection that works on so many levels: we can't but marvel about the amazing minute tardigrades who have been on earth for 500 million years: 'I was there from the off - / the sound of life revving up all over. / This was, oh, a cool half billion years ago.' ('Tardigrade in the Cambrian Era' p.55). I was particularly taken by the sequence of 'Saga' poems about these little known creatures. Short, tubby and with eight legs, the largest is no longer than half a millimeter. Endearingly, they are also known as water bears or moss piglets: 'You say tardigrade - slow-stepper, / sluggish walker, micro-sloth, Or, / if you want to get familiar, water bear. / Moss piglet if you must./ ('A tardigrade by any other name'. p.30). Graceful though Arctic Terns (p.24) may be (they are also known as sea swallows), their attacks on anything that threatens their nests are sharp and vicious: '... all clash / and clamour, shriek and wheel / like knife grinders in the flight.../'. They nest on sea stacs where '... the boulders / huddle close into each other's / shelter, tight against the cold / as the stone-spit narrows, and the weather // grips you, .../'. This poem offers a perfect companion for Geraldine McGaughrean's Carnegie-winning novel, Where the World Ends - a vivid fictionalised account of what happens to a group of boys and men abandoned on a sea stac in the Outer Hebrides at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Look out for the humorous strand of 'Extreme...' poems: 'Lava-Boarding' at the Extreme Sports Olympics (p.21); 'Extreme Aunt' Adelina (p.50) currently being searched for a by a submarine; there's an 'Extreme Uncle' (p.52) too but he's anything but extreme and only at the 'Extreme Musical Festival' (p.46) will you find a storm harp and moon music. Gross suggests that children may like to think up different kinds of extreme music observing that 'The fantastical answers may turn out to say a lot about a real place, or person'. Recent events are movingly brought to the fore in 'Aleppo Cat' (p.26): an atmospherically evoked description of a cat wandering in Aleppo's ruins: Gone / And where the fish man / tossed the bones. / Gone. // Where the children chased her / with fierce cuddles, too young / to know their strength. / Gone, /' As well as the poems, Gross's additional notes are fascinating. Did you know that Ivy-Leaved Toadflax was brought to this country in the cracks of Roman statues and has been in Britain for 400 years?! A robust climber, it has many other names: '... Call me / Wandering Sailor, Mother of Thousands; / in French, call me Ruine-de-Rome. // I'm here, I'm everywhere / you never look. On the brink, / on the edge, with no visible means / of support ... but at home.// Finally, the reader is taken to the 'Dark Sky Park' (p.94) of the title. Set up to support astronomers, Dark Sky Parks offer a space where the stars ('spark after spark / from a burned-out bonfire, /) can be clearly seen as can the flickering of the Aurora Borealis: 'that dark blue-green fraying / of the dark / of space, like fine weed wavering / in a stream.../. These are beautiful and persistent images with which to conclude, as is the very last reminder of the synergy between humankind and the natural world: 'Or picture this: a little boy our late / beyond the streetlights, dap-dapping his ball, / this one and only precious globe, alone / in the park, / in the dark, / the dark sky park. // 96 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Dark Sky Park: Poems from the Edge of Nature
Mud
Emily Thomas

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783446896

'This diary is the last birthday present Mum ever gave me, three years ago when I was ten.' Now 13, Lydia begins to record her observations of family life. Since her mother's death, cracks have begun to appear in the once secure family unit and Lydia's diary begins with the news that their home is to be sold, her father is to remarry and both sets of children are to move with their parent into an old Thames sailing barge. It's not long before, through Lydia's eyes, we begin to see that it's not only the boat that is at sea. The once familiar stability of the family begins to sink slowly, as it were, into the metaphorical mud. As an adult reader I picked up, more quickly that Lydia appears to (or would), the worrying signs of her father sinking into depression and alcoholism. The new, and probably unwise, marriage begins to collapse. Lydia's salvation is her new friendship with Kay and, despite her initial reluctance to engage with them, her new siblings and step mother. Mud charts realistically the challenges of family life as they cope with adolescence, bereavement and loss. Lydia's diary is authentic and consistent and acutely observed; it is funny and poignant, moving and smart. I will recommend this to pupils in Years 7 and 8. 403 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Jane Welby, school librarian.

Mud
The Colour of the Sun
David Almond

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444919554

It's an ordinary summer day, the day that Jimmy Killen dies and comes back to life. Almond gives the story away in the very first economical sentence making this, on one level, the story of a murder, a journey through a small town and Davie's encounters with some memorable locals along the way. But, on another, it is the embodiment of 'constant astonishment at being alive in this beautiful, weird, extraordinary world'. This is Almond after all and this latest story bears all the hallmarks we have come to expect - looking at the ordinary, everyday and seeing not just the extraordinary here but the miraculous. When Davie first hears of the knife killing which is the talk of his town, he sets off up the hill overlooking it, believing he knows who is responsible. His single day of solitary wandering and wondering is broken up by a series of odd encounters with some familiar figures who prompt his memories: Wilf Pew with his false leg; Molly Myers at the butcher; the doubting Father Paddy Kelly; the slobbery roaming dog Foulmouth; the lovely Maria O'Flynn. Davie's journey is punctuated too by his sketching as he attempts to capture the colour of the landscape he explores. So vivid is the sense of place that we can readily believe it to be David Almond's own journey as a child, moving from the grit and the dust of industrial Felling to the sunshine and the blue skies where skylarks soar and sing. Almond continually plays with ideas, inviting the reader to wonder - is Davie the author? Is it real or imagined? The boundaries continually blur. There is football here too, fairies and long-running family feuds. The journey is as much emotional as physical. Davie grieves the recent death of his father as well as his own childhood - not old enough to 'go drinking with the lads', too old to 'run around like a daft thing'. It's a spiritual journey, too, grounded in Catholicism, playing with ideas of dark and light, resurrection, reconciliation and renewal. Tellingly though, the scenes with the priest are devoid of the colour which lights up the rest of the book. Classic Almond, it reads like a dream, unfolding the story with an almost philosophical zen-like calm. Every word earns its place in short but lyrical, evocative sentences which beg to be read and re-read and read again. This feels like the book Almond was always destined to write, in a now proud, defiant regional voice, speaking to the wider world and overcoming literary prejudice and snobbery. It is far funnier than previous books, with moments of dark, typically Geordie humour balancing the serious themes of love and hate, death and bereavement. Reassuringly, the familiar sense of childlike wonder shines through, forcing the reader to see the world through different eyes, just as Davie himself does by the end of the book. While not unsuitable for lower KS3* (some appropriate, mild swearing), this is a story best appreciated by adults - young and not so young. It is moving, emotional, imaginative, unsettling but endlessly optimistic storytelling. Ultimately though, to review it is to ruin its magic and beauty, just read it for yourself. 240 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian.

The Colour of the Sun
A Boy Called Ocean
Chris Higgins

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9780340997031

One night adrift on the ocean with only a stolen wetsuit and his dreams and determination to keep him alive, Kai faces some hard truths about himself and the choices that have led him to the brink of death. The tale is told mainly through the eyes of Kai and his 'will-they-or-won't they' girlfriend Jen who have been best friends since primary school, but we also get the perspectives of Jen's friend Ellie and the lifeguard Jay. It explores who is to blame for Kai's fate: his mother and the secrets behind his troubled upbringing; Jen and Ellie for their games and jealousy; or maybe his boss Oliver for precipitating the crisis? Everyone involved feels some level of guilt as well as anguish, heartbreak and fast-disappearing hope as the night wears on and the tension mounts. Alongside the story of the search and rescue attempt, we have the blossoming romance between Kai and Jen; will they ever have the chance to let each other know how they feel? Kai's backstory is also a very interesting thread and explores how mistakes made by parents impact on the lives of their children and questions how much the children can blame these for their own failings. This is a romance that should fly off the library shelves, but with more depth than most. 304 pages / Ages 11-15 / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

A Boy Called Ocean
How to Write a Love Story
Katy Cannon

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159212

When Tilly is asked to help her Gran write the next Bea Frost romance, Tilly jumps at the chance. She's always wanted to be a writer and she has been helping her Gran write her best-selling novels for years. What Tilly is about to learn is that, having never actually been kissed, writing from experience is not an option. Luckily, there's a new boy at school; Zach Gates has just stepped straight out of the television talent contest 'The Real Star School'. All the girls are in a twirl and Tilly hatches a plan to help her get exactly what she needs to write a bestselling romance - experience of falling for a boy and having her first kiss. But Tilly also learns that writing your own happy ending is much easier said than done. As a school librarian, I loved that much of the book is set within familiar stomping grounds - the school library. The main characters are super-cool student librarians (aren't they all). The characters are likeable and the story flows well, touching on important issues without being too miserable. It's a charming and easy read, ideal for reading in the park, on the beach or inside, watching the rain, should the weather fail us. Plus! There are lots of tips for aspiring writers, it almost inspired me to get writing again! 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Victoria Long, school librarian.

How to Write a Love Story
The Truth About Lies
Tracy Darnton

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159489

Jess has a remarkable memory. She has hyperthymesia. This is like having a library in her mind where she can take out a book and remember every single detail of that day. Even if that day was years ago. On the surface this sounds wonderful. However it is both a blessing and a curse. Imagine not having the ability to forget or for time to heal. Being able to relive your most humiliating moments, with clarity, over and over again... Jess was part of a research programme, run by Professor Coleman, before she escaped and made a fresh start for herself at a boarding school on Dartmoor. She remembers her roommate Hanna falling from their window. What isn't clear, however, is whether she fell or whether something more sinister occurred. Then Jess starts to receive cryptic postcard messages and things go missing from her room. She is determined to search her mind to get to the truth of what happened both with Jess and with her mother at the research centre. With shady characters reappearing from Jess's past, is it time for her to run again? Can she ever be settled and happy? I hadn't heard of hyperthymesia before reading this book so it was a really intriguing concept. I enjoyed the way that the secrets of Jess's past were revealed as I read. It was a pacey thriller which kept me guessing to the end. The idea of Jess having an infallible memory is what made this book such an interesting read for me. Note contains: - Use of Ouija board, Suicide theme, mental health issues and sex (not detailed). 256 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian.

The Truth About Lies
Hope is our Only Wing
Rutendo Tavengerwei

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471406867

Shamisa can hardly remember her life in Zimbabwe, where her father had worked as a journalist critical of the government. Returning to Africa, she feels isolated and far from her friends. Her father has now been killed in suspicious circumstances, they have no papers to return to the UK, and her mother works hard to send Shamisa to boarding school, where teachers are on political strike, and she puts up barriers to defend herself emotionally. Tanyaradzwa, another new girl at school who we come to realise is seriously ill, tries to make friends, and gradually the two girls find what they have in common. Tanyaradzwa holds on to hope in spite of her cancer, and reminds Shamisa of her father's words, 'hope is our only wing out of a stormy gale'. The two main characters each have to confront their own problems, and hope is key in how they do this. They both have to learn how to trust other people, and to come to terms with loss and difficult relationships. Their slowly developing friendship, and how they come to trust each other, is well portrayed, and the situations they are in, while different, are realistic and grab the reader's empathy. Set in Zimbabwe in 2008, the book paints a picture of a country where corruption is rife, inflation increases prices daily, political unrest is brewing, and anyone critical of the government is in danger of their lives. Shamiso's family are in very real danger. Food is short, electricity supply is erratic, and daily life has many problems. The book is good at portraying life in a specific time and place, and allowing the reader to feel what it would be like to live in such difficult circumstances. Young British readers coming to this book may need some background history about Zimbabwe, and an update of how things have developed there more recently. The book's themes include grief, loss, cancer, corruption, poverty and political assassinations. But the personal stories of the two main characters are not overshadowed by the political background, and it is the fact that we care about them both that makes this book so readable. A book for thoughtful, older readers. 256 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Carol Williams, librarian.

Hope is our Only Wing
We Are Young
Cat Clarke

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781786540058

Trying to make sure you're drunk enough to get through your mother's wedding day but not so drunk that she notices is not an easy task. That is our first introduction to Evan on a wedding day that is marred further by the news of a car crash involving Evan's new step brother. An accident that leaves three people dead and one, her step brother Lewis, the sole survivor, unconscious and injured. With the help of her estranged father Evan begins to piece together the tragedy; the commonly held view of the accident just doesn't ring true - but the truth might be hard for everyone to swallow. Evan is a solid, likeable main character with an honest voice and Cat Clarke has a masterful grasp on the strands she has woven to create Evan's story; family dynamics, control, abuse and mental health forged into one powerful YA read. Another winner from Cat Clarke! 384 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

We Are Young
Legendary
Stephanie Garber

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN 9781473629189

Legendary is Book 2 in the Caraval series and it picks up straight after the end of book 1. With another invitation to a Caraval competition. However, this time the stakes are higher. After Tella saved her sister in book 1, both the sisters should now be happy and celebrating, but this is not meant to be. The arrangement that Tella made with the mysterious 'friend' is not over and he is asking for more before he will set her free from their agreement. Tella is the reveal the name of Legend at the end of the competition, if she doesn't she will lose everything, including her life. Legendary is written from Tella's POV, which I thought was really well done. The reader gets to find out more about her and learns with her as she at times makes disastrous choices as she gets deeper into the game. Tella is a great character, one that the reader can relate too. She is much more complex and brave than she lets on. This is a girl you can root for. You get to learn so much about her past that you don't get from Scarlett's POV in Caraval. The author has included lots of returning characters, which makes the story familiar and flow much easier and even though we're in Tella's POV, even Scarlett's story continues. Yes, the loving couple, Scarlett and Julian are still around as you would expect however, we didn't get much of them, Scarlett especially was surrounded by mystery, which thankfully did come together towards the end of the book. We are also introduced to new characters that help make this story magical and mysterious. Legendary is an entirely new world, one that is even more magical than the last. New settings and new myths come to life. 416 well written pages that are suitable for 14+ confident readers due to all the twists and turns of the story. The plot however, is broken up into reasonable sized chapters, some of which contain wonderful scripted letters that add to the mystery, especially the last letter at the end of the story, which happily (hopefully) makes the reader want to continue the story in book 3, FINALE. Before you take this story on you need to read book 1. Both of which I would happily recommend. 416 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Legendary
The Surface Breaks: a reimagining of The Little Mermaid
Louise O'Neill

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407185538

A fantasy story that is perhaps something of a surprising departure from her recent controversial YA novels 'Only Ever Yours' and 'Asking for it', Louise O'Neill's latest novel is a re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid story. The Disney version of the story may be the more familiar to most contemporary young readers but the author is interested in a much darker and feminist interpretation of the classic fairy tale. The action initially focuses on teenage mermaid Gaia (also known as Muirgen) and the other members of the royal mer family to which she belongs. Gala dreams of becoming a human particularly when on her 15th birthday she meets, rescues from drowning and instantly falls in love with human Oliver, but her father has betrothed her to a much older merman, Zale, and she has little if any free will or choice. She also wishes to resolve the mystery fate of her missing mother who by all accounts abandoned her and her five sisters for the love of a human. Gaia decides to escape the repressive control of her father the Sea King and her life underwater in the Sea Kingdom where women and girls are only valued for their looks and obedience, as well as avoiding the regular unwelcome sexual assaults made by Zale. She is told that only the Sea Witch in the Shadowlands has the power to grant her wish of having legs so she can live and love as a human. After the fairy tale style and symbolism of the first half of this story, the second half outlines her new life as a mute (the price she pays Cito the Sea Witch for a pair of legs) living amongst Oliver and his wealthy family and friends as a human. She has a month in which to make him fall in love with her and kiss her if she is to survive. Whilst having lost her beautiful singing voice she has gained gracefulness as a dancer (hence her new name of Grace) although she suffers excruciating pain as her human legs begin to waste away. Here too the brutality of men and the dismissal of women in society continues. Human males are seen just like mermen to be brutish, obsessed with power, money and politics whilst women are here too expected to be silent and appear attractive. There are some strong female characters - notably Ceto, the Sea witch and Eleanor, Oliver's mother, but Gaia ultimately has paid the price for lusting after a human and she recognises that sacrificing herself for any man is not worth it. The feminist message and stereotyping of girls and men at times hits you over the head, and can be obvious and unsubtle. Both the human and the underwater world are seen as patriarchies where girls are regarded as powerless, owned by men and valued only for their looks, whilst men, with a few exceptions, are portrayed as violent, power seeking, and domineering. I am not completely sure to whom this book would appeal. Young teenagers who enjoy the fantasy genre perhaps yet there is some swearing, sexual assault, brutality and considerable violence which might not be regarded as entirely suitable for young teens who, perhaps attracted by the cover, are expecting a harmless, magical fairy story about mermaids. However, this is a return to the original style and message of the often frightening and moralising fairy tale genre. The original Andersen classic is itself a far cry from the Disney Ariel animated musical film (although Gaia is described as having red hair and blue eyes like the cartoon Ariel!) and this dark, dystopian re-telling uses it as a vehicle to highlight gender stereotyping and the beauty myth. Older teenagers who have enjoyed Louise O'Neill's previous books, may find the fairytale references unfamiliar. 320 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Laura Taylor, school librarian.

The Surface Breaks: a reimagining of The Little Mermaid