NEW TITLES

This month's selection of books for 11+ readers includes historical fiction, fantasy, contemporary stories and poetry, and the highlighted books are reviewed here by teachers and school librarians.

A Pinch of Magic
Michelle Harrison

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471124297

This is a lovely book, and it has been a delight to read and review it. Betty Widdershins lives with her Granny, and her sisters Fliss and Charlie, in the Poachers Pocket Inn in the village of Crowstone. Their mother is dead and their father is imprisoned in Crowstone Tower. Betty longs for adventure and yearns to explore the world beyond Crowstone. But, on her 13th birthday, she learns that a curse has been placed upon the Widdershins family which means that any girl who leaves Crowstone will die before the next sunset. Granny also tells the girls that she owns three magical objects - a travelling bag which can transport people anywhere they need to go, a mirror which enables the owner to speak to people who are in other places, and a set of wooden nesting dolls which can be used to make people invisible. Fliss, the eldest, is to inherit the mirror, Betty the dolls and Charlie, the youngest, becomes the owner of the magic bag. Betty is desperate to break the curse, and, with the help of her sisters and their trio of magical items, sets off to seek out a way to safeguard the future of the Widdershins family. So begins a wonderful adventure, filled with magic, mystery, escaped prisoners and danger. This is a beautifully written story; the author describes in detail the misty marshes around Crowstone and the mysterious islands of Torment, Lament and Repent, drawing the reader effortlessly into Betty's world. The characters are well drawn and interesting. Each girl has her own traits; Fliss, who at first seems to be flirty and self-absorbed turns out to be brave and feisty. Charlie is the animal lover with her pet rat, Hoppity, and her cat Oi. She is a very funny little girl who becomes a key part of solving the puzzle of the curse. Betty is a fabulous character, wilful and adventurous but with a huge love for her sisters and grandmother. There is a strong sense of family which shines out throughout the book. I especially loved the way the author weaves the story of Sorsha Spellthorn, the girl who was blamed for placing the curse on the Widdershins, into the story. The author also cleverly ties up all of the loose ends into a highly satisfactory conclusion. All things considered, this is a book to be savoured and I highly recommend it. The ending of the book hints that there are more stories about the Widdershins sisters to come, and I really hope that this is the case! I look forward to reading the further adventures of Fliss, Betty and Charlie. 368 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian

A Pinch of Magic
Halo Moon
Sharon Cohen

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781786540102

Halo Moon loves her remote Yorkshire village. From her sky watcher's chair in the garden, she can fulfil her passion for star gazing, wondering about distant planets, feeling like a mere speck in the universe. In Ethiopia, Ageze Tadesse is running an errand when his inquisitive nature gets the better of him and he finds himself in possession of a mysterious, magical object. Their two worlds are destined to collide when Ageze realises that the Portendo device, as he christens it, can make startling and accurate predictions. Armed with this powerful knowledge and aware of a devastating prediction in Halo's village, he concocts an elaborate and dangerous plan to travel to England and avert the devastating repercussions. When Halo, her new friend Pedro and Ageze finally meet, they know their unlikely story will be laughed at and dismissed. Can they find a respected to adult who believes them? And can they win the race against time to save the village? I knew I would like this book almost from the first page! It has an immediate warmth and the countdown and dual narrative work brilliantly to create a sense of tension and destiny. The three friends at the heart of the story are very clearly defined, with distinct personalities and styles and there are a lot themes running through the story (friendship, bravery, inclusivity) that are deftly handled and should be appealing to readers. A highly recommended read - for geeks and adventurers alike! 324 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Halo Moon
Asha & the Spirit Bird
Jasbinder Bilan

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911490197

Asha and her family live in the foothills of the Himalayas. Surviving on wages her father sends from his factory job in the City, they manage their farm in his absence and yearn for him to return. But suddenly the money and Pa's letters stop arriving; and as the months go by Asha's desperate mother is forced to take out a loan she can never repay. With the threat of losing their beloved farm hanging over them, Asha and her best friend Jeevan, secretly hatch a plot to travel to the City and find her father. Strengthened by the mysterious presence of a magnificent Lamagia bird, which Asha takes to be a good omen for their journey, they set off on an arduous and dangerous trek across the mountains. When the bird re-appears at difficult moments, Asha senses that it is the spirit of her grandmother guiding them and believes that a magical connection to her ancestors will help them complete their mission. This is a spirited tale that takes the reader across mystical mountain terrain to the vibrant bustle of contemporary urban India. Wonderfully blending thrilling adventure, ancient mysticism, faith and friendship, there are so many things to enjoy in this enchanting debut novel. It would be an ideal read for fans of Jess Butterworth and Katherine Rundell and I sped through this fabulous book in a couple of sittings. I'm sure many middle-grade readers will do just the same! 288 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Asha & the Spirit Bird
Pog
Padraig Kenny

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911490395

I have to confess to being almost frightened to read Pog. I loved Tin so much that I was almost scared I'd be disappointed by Padraig Kenny's next book. Whilst I think that Tin will remain one of my all-time favourite children's books, Pog is absolutely excellent and a cracking good read. One of the aspects of Padraig Kenny's books is that they remind you of other books you have read, whilst at the same time remaining completely original stories. This one made me think of A Monster Calls and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and yet is nothing like either of them. David and Penny move into their old family house after their mother dies. The house is situated in a forest and the house appears to have a small furry creature living in the attic. There are also other, rather less friendly creatures, lurking in the vicinty. The setting is gloomy and foreboding and the tension is palpable from the off. I also want to mention the beautiful cover and illustrations by Jane Newland. The cover exactly captures form the essence of the story, with the colours and the gloom in one gorgeous picture. Whilst this book deals with grief and sadness, it is still an exciting and thought-provoking adventure. The villain is one of the more terrifying creations I have read about and yet is still unlikely to scare children. My 11-year-old loved this book (he stole it from me as soon as it arrived) and I think he missed a lot of what scared me and just saw it as an exciting plot filled with rich characters. Whereas I would not suggest a Year 4 or 5 child should read A Monster Calls, I do think this book makes a similar topic more accessible. The element of fantasy is different and less troubling, mainly due to the character of Pog. Pog is the device to ease the tension, he is amusing whilst at the same time heroic. This book shows that Tin was definitely not a one off and the Padraig Kenny is an author to look out for in children's fantasy writing. I can't wait for the next one! 288 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher.

Pog
Scavengers
Darren Simpson

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474956024

Scavengers tells the story of a boy called Landfill who lives with Old Babagoo in Hinterland, surrounded by a big wall that separates it from Outside. Landfill's life is regulated by many rules, which are imposed upon him by Babagoo. The relationship between the two characters is a maelstrom of comfortable friendliness, parent/child and bully/bullied. Throughout the novel evocative use of language helps to set scenes without giving too much away, leading the reader to form their own opinions and discover what is going on. Landfill's days are filled with tasks and interactions with the many animals in Hinterland, all of whom have literary names. The names are explained in an appendix at the end of the book. These animals are his playmates since he leads such a solitary existence. At times there are gritty descriptions of the gulls that form the basis for meals in Hinterland and the whole novel has echoes of Lord of the Flies. Babagoo and Landfill communicate using made up and unusual language, giving the story a Dahlesque feel. The most important rule is to NEVER go beyond the wall and when Landfill does, it opens up a whole wealth of questions and situations that he had never dreamt of. When Dawn, an 'Outsider', comes into Hinterland, Landfill starts to develop an awareness that not all he has been told by Babagoo about the Outsiders may be correct. His innate sense that he is missing out on something becomes more profound and he starts to question Babagoo's ideas and decisions. At times a truly challenging read but one where the use of language is such that you can see and breathe the atmosphere within Hinterland; this is a superbly written novel. I especially liked the addition of the discussion questions. 322 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, School Librarian

Scavengers
How to Rob a Bank
Tom Mitchell

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008276508

Poor Dylan burns down the house of the girl he is trying to impress. The Nepalese scented candle turns out to not be the best gift after all. Inspired by his film-loving Dad's showing of Dog Day Afternoon, Dylan believes he can solve his (and his Emma Stone look-alike would be girlfriends) problems by robbing a bank. Thus ensues a very unfortunate incident with a cat, a failed post office robbery, a massively unwanted Saturday job and you have a very enjoyable quirky read. This is very relatable crime-comedy fun. There are some more risque jokes, so I wouldn't recommend for primary aged students, but for secondary schoolers, I would have no problems recommending this for those looking to move on after David Walliams books. Especially for more reluctant boys. 288 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Jenni Prestwood, school librarian.

How to Rob a Bank
A Crystal of Time (The School for Good and Evil, Book 5)
Soman Chainani

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780008292201

Oh, the drama of this book! As you read through this wonderful series it gets better and better. I only started this book a few days ago and I could not put it down. I thought book 4, Quests for Glory, was a rollercoaster ride, but Crystal of Time is all of that, with an added shot of an high energy drink!! Rhian is now King of Camelot and he is forcing Sophie to be his Queen, but she can't understand why he his so determined that they marry. He has imprisoned Tedros, Guinevere, and their friends in the dungeons, with Tedros's execution planned on the date of his wedding to Sophie. Japeth terrorises people across the Kingdom in order for their leaders to take his brother as the true king and destroy their rings, which keep the Storian writing in the School of the Ever and Nevers. They need the Storian to be destroyed so that their own pen, Lionsmane can write the tales of Camelot's people. This will have devastating consequences, especially after the wedding. Agatha is in despair, she is the only one to have escaped Rhian and she doesn't know who she can turn to or trust. What does she do first, go seek advice from The Lady in the Lake or somehow get back to the school for help? Agatha still has with her the Crystal that belongs to Dean Dovey but she has yet to learn how to use it. When she gains that knowledge, the crystal reveals the answers they are looking for, but they are not reliable as it is damaged. What is the Truth and what are Lies? The author has carefully and skilfully blended The Legend of King Arthur, Lady of The Lake and Robin Hood into this part of this magical fantasy story, giving these fairytale figures more character and depth. I love the addition of the gnomes and Gnomeland. Even though there is a major battle of good and evil going on above their heads, they provide such a lot of humour and fun. I also think Reaper, Agatha's cat, deserves a mention. I adore an evil animal character that acts 'all hard' but really has a heart as big as a lion and is not all he seems to be. I won't say anymore as I don't want to spoil it for any readers. Once again the chapters have illustrations at the beginning of them, which help make the book suitable for any level of reader of 11+, especially boys! It would also be great for reading groups as there are lots of discussion points. The Crystal of Time contains 640 well written pages that deal with death, violence, loyalty, friendship, trust, love, humour and of course lots of magic (but what has happened to Merlin?!?) Its main message, as in all fairytales, is our perspective on events, who is telling the truth or a lie? If you believe what you are doing is the truth, how can it be a lie? This is what the main characters have to deal with and work out. With the amazing cliffhanger ending, I believe there will be a book 6, and I can't wait to get my hands on it to see how Soman Chainani ties everything together, and to once again go on a wonderful adventure with these amazing characters. 640 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

A Crystal of Time (The School for Good and Evil, Book 5)
To Night Owl From Dogfish
Holly Goldberg-Sloan

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405294836

Bett and Avery, two girls living on opposite sides of America, strike up an email correspondence. Initiated by outgoing, confident Californian Bett, who has discovered that their fathers are planning to send them to the same summer camp, Avery, living in New York City, is at first unbelieving. But when it becomes obvious that it is indeed the case and the fathers want them to meet because they are in a relationship, the girls resolve to ignore each other at camp. Having rather different characters and interests, this is easy at first, as they pick different activities to take part in. However, gradually they find themselves drawn together and a real friendship develops. The book charts their communications, and those of others involved in their story, as they navigate the highs and lows of family life, growing up and a second summer together, at a different type of camp. Heartwarming, touching and often funny, with a diverse and inclusive cast of characters who really come alive for the reader through their emails, texts and letters, this is a totally absorbing read. I was very pleased to make the acquaintance of Night Owl and Dogfish. Recommended for readers of 11+. 304 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, school librarian

To Night Owl From Dogfish
A TUDOR TURK
Rehan Khan

HopeRoad

ISBN 9781908446978

A fast-paced adventure set in the late Tudor period, this book tells the story of Will Ryde, kidnapped from London at the age of five, and Awa Maryam Al-Jameel, daughter of a noble family from West Africa. Will is now a highly trained fighter, and, after being captured in battle, Awa is being held captive and is forced to fight with other women in gladiatorial contests. Will has become a member of an elite band of warriors, the Ruzgar, who have been tasked with recovering the Staff of Moses, a priceless religious artefact which has been stolen from Sultan Murad III. After Awa escapes from her captors, she and Will meet in Istanbul and she too becomes part of the Ruzgar. The story moves quickly from Istanbul to Alexandria, then to Venice and, finally, to England and the court of Queen Elizabeth I. This is not a genre of book I usually read, so I must admit it took me a while to get into the story. I found it a little confusing at first - the author uses a lot of quite complex language, and there are many historical references within the story. I actually did a bit of internet research at one point! However, once Will and Awa meet, the plot really picks up the pace and the book becomes much more enjoyable. The characters are interesting and I particularly loved the way that Awa, although a female in a world dominated by men, is clearly the best fighter in the group and is very much a leader. As the story concerns a group of warriors, there are many fight scenes which are quite graphically described. This may upset some readers, although the characters often show remorse at the way they have to act in order to survive. This is part one of a trilogy; the book ends on a real cliff hanger, making the reader keen to find out what happens next! Overall, I (eventually) enjoyed this book and would like to read more about the characters and learn more about Will and Awa. I would not be surprised to see A Tudor Turk as a film in the future - the story would work well on the big screen. 304 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian.

A TUDOR TURK
The Disconnect
Keren David

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781128558

Thought provoking and powerful. An influential writer who makes a strong comment on the youth in modern society. This is an important fictional tale for all young people to read in today's society. Not only does it reflect the over reliance and usage of our social media accounts, it shows the addiction and dangers of being constantly connected. As an adult, this tale has really made me consider my own usage of my mobile phone and I hope it will influence young people into reconsidering; do you really need to be connected all the time? The Disconnect tells the tale of Esther, a young woman completely addicted to her mobile phone. Esther relies on her mobile phone for everything from approval from her friends on her outfit choice, keeping up to date on all the gossip, but most of all reassurance that is she isn't missing out on anything. However, Ester's Dad, sister and baby nephew live in America and so she also relies on her phone for keeping in constant contact with her family. But, when a speaker arrives in her school and states she will pay the students one thousand pounds if they can stay off their phones for six whole weeks, Esther attempts to become 'disconnected'. Challenges and trials are aplenty for Esther, but along the way she finds new 'real' friends and finds out a lot about herself. Perhaps become 'disconnected' isn't such a bad thing after all? A moving tale of friendship, growing up and finding yourself embodied through the connected youth of today. As an adult reading this, it becomes all too familiar - that sinking feeling that young people are become too reliant on their mobile phones. The story reflects a social experiment that I strongly feel should be conducted in every school across the UK. Barrington Stoke publish their short stories on thick, sepia paper with larger font in order to make their books accessible for all readers. Choosing a variety of strong authors, their publications are always interesting and enjoyable to read for both adults and young people. 224 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher.

The Disconnect
Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein
Sharon Dogar

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783448029

Don't be fooled by the title, the Monster in this story isn't the one brought to life by Dr Frankenstein in the classic Gothic story but the characters involved in its creation. For this is the outstanding and completely compelling story of Mary Godwin, author of the original tale, whose own life is every bit as tragic and dramatic as that of the legendary monster she creates. Dogar cleverly weaves a tangled web of intrigue, emotions and relationships which inextricably pulls in the reader while at the same time showing brilliantly how real life informed art. The lives of these literary celebrities unfold like the reality TV show of its time, scandalising those in London society who look on in outraged judgement, gossiping shamelessly, and completely addicted to seeing what Mary and those in her close circle do next. We, as readers, share their fascination with these characters as their drama unfolds on the page: 16-year-old Mary, headstrong and idealistic, passionate and vocal about defying social convention and following her dreams; her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, staunch feminist and muse for for our heroine even after her own early death; her father, the stubborn and pompous social reformer, William Godwin; her half-sister, Claire, competing for romantic attention from Percy Bysshe Shelley as they elope to pursue their vision of free love; Shelley himself, the charming (married) Romantic hero poet, idealistic and reckless, but often thinking only of himself; the infamous Lord Byron, fashionable and flamboyant, womanising villain. There are abandoned wives, passionate affairs, infant death and suicide as our cast of characters travel from London to Paris and through Switzerland in pursuit of their ideals. Theirs is a story of love, passion and heartbreak, abject poverty and prejudice, idealism and radicalism, atheism, feminism and freedom. he way in which Dogar brings the past to life and reimagines Mary Shelley's life is outstanding. Rigorous historical research and exceptionally skilled writing captures the flavour of the era while creating a page-turning story, highly readable to a modern audience. Despite the initially intimidating length, short diary-style entries keep the pages turning at speed. Dogar treats her very human characters fairly, portraying Mary Shelley as an inspiring feminist heroine, fighting for her rights, passionately articulating beliefs which are just as relevant today. Indeed the condemnation and shaming she faces is only too similar to that which many women still experience. Dogar deftly avoids any hint of melodrama or stereotyping. As readers, we find ourselves attracted, despite ourselves, to the dark side of the very characters we long to despise. This is the book English teachers have long dreamed of - perfect to use with GCSE/A level classes to increase engagement and understanding of the set text or to stretch more able readers and tempt them into trying the Frankenstein story for themselves. Fans of historical fiction will love it too. It is a masterpiece and deserves to hoover up awards. A number of contemporary YA writers have put a new spin on the Frankenstein myth to create their own outstanding fictions: Paula Rawsthorne examines medical ethics, identity and the nature of love in the thought-provoking novel Shell while Chris Priestley creates a creepy gothic journey of friendship and betrayal in Mister Creecher. Other classic fictions are given a modern spin in Becoming Jo by Sophie McKenzie (a reimagining of Little Women) and A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (a retelling of the myth of Orpheus). Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman sets the Othello story in deep space while And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness tells the story of Moby Dick from the perspective of the whale. Dogar's previous work, Annexed, takes the reader into the world of Anne Frank through Peter's diary. 464 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein
Internment
Samira Ahmed

ATOM

ISBN 9780349003344

In a futuristic USA, Muslim-Americans are forced to register. Are dismissed from positions of educating or authority. Are placed under curfew restrictions. And, finally, are forced into internment camps. 17-year-old Layla Amin watches the situation around her become bleaker and bleaker, with no resistance in sight; told to keep her head down and keep out of trouble - until one devastating night, she and her parents are brutally 'collected' and driven to Mobius, the 'premier' internment camp. With help from newly made friends also trapped within the camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and Jake, an unexpected ally, Layla begins a journey to fight for her freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's Director and his guards. Powerful, humane and authentic I absolutely could not put this down. This novel, set '15 minutes into the future', is so frighteningly real. Layla is courageous and brave and I was with her every step of the way. I felt her frustrations, her uncertainty and the pain of all the awful things that happen to her. Ayesha, the friend that Layla makes at Mobius is also a strong character and between them they manage to make people stand up for their rights and what they believe in. The Director was a hideous character who would stop at nothing to have his camp be the beacon to which all the other internment camps follow. Disturbing, terrifying and thought-provoking, Internment is a timely work of fiction which will provoke many discussions on a myriad of issues. 400 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian

Internment
A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Brigid Kemmerer

Bloomsbury YA

ISBN 9781408884614

Over the years there have been many retellings of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. This is what the author wanted to complete and she has managed it, but with a much darker theme woven into the love story. It's simply enchanting and well worth the read. Harper - who is not a usual heroine, has a disability that affects her but doesn't define her (cerebral palsy) - is taken against her will from the streets of Washington DC into the parallel world of Emberfall. She is confused and disoriented, but that doesn't stop her trying to escape and find her way back home. She meets Rhen, but even though he greets her warmly and attempts to reassure her that she will come to no harm, she obviously doesn't trust him. Rhen is the King of Emberfall; he is a hero with a tortured soul who carries a deep dark secret. Due to a curse that has been placed on him, he is now destined to repeat the year of his 18th birthday again and again with devastating consequences until he finds true love. The only person he can trust is Grey, his Commander, who is constantly at his side (and who, by the way, is another great character). To complete the mix is Lilith, an evil sorceress, who shows no mercy and loves to torture and torment Rhen at any given moment. I loved the drama of this book. The duel narrative of the main protagonists Harper and Rhen. The excellent writing and the amazing imagination of the author. Oh, and the monster, think 'Game of Thrones' for this one and you won't go far wrong! A Curse so Dark and Lonely doesn't have a dull moment, it keeps the reader engaged and engrossed straight from the first page to the last and then leaves you wanting more. Although this fabulous retelling is a love story, it's only suitable for 14+ confident / non confident readers due to some of its subject matter of death, violence, sexual references, suicide, abuse, abduction and torture. However, you must not let any of this put you off, you will not be disappointed. Sadly, just got to wait until next year for book 2, A Heart so Fierce and Broken. Can't wait to get my hands on it! 496 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely
The Stolen Ones
Vanessa Curtis

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474915038

There is a wealth of stories set in the Second World War; The Stolen Ones is slightly different. Set in post-war Munich in 1956, it provides an insightful portrait of life after the war for both German and Polish citizens and the way the repercussions of the war still affect them. Inge is nearly 16, a happy girl living with her parents in their ultra-smart house in Munich. Her mother is a housewife and her father retrained after the war to be an accountant. The only discord in her life is that she has to keep her boyfriend, Wilf, a secret. Wilf is a Jew, therefore not acceptable to her parents. When you start reading the book this automatically would indicate the main issue she has to overcome. However, this in fact becomes the least of Inge's worries. Whilst she is hiding Wilf's existence from her parents, she starts to believe that they are hiding something from her. A letter appears addressed to someone she does not recognise, as one has every year on her birthday and her mother swiftly hides it away. Then a mysterious woman speaking a foreign language starts to appear at their door, but whenever Inge questions her parents they shut down and will not tell her anything. Drastic action is called for and Inge, with Wilf's help, breaks in to her mother's desk to find the letters - this starts a chain of events and revelations, few of which are comfortable for Inge. Written with compassion, the book immerses the reader in post war Munich and Poland. Inge and Wilf's story intertwines and her desire to feel 'at home' is foremost throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, from both the historical perspective but more importantly from the human angle of displacement, lost families and reunions. 352 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, school librarian

The Stolen Ones
All The Lonely People
David Owen

ATOM

ISBN 9780349003207

It is one of the biggest and most well-documented ironies of our time that the more we become connected online and through social media, the more our isolation, vulnerability and loneliness increase. This irony forms the core of All the Lonely People - a story about a teenage girl who literally fades away as a result of her loneliness and lack of online persona. It's a not-so-subtle but extremely powerful way of exploring how detached and isolated loneliness can make you feel, especially when you're at an age when being lonely is unacceptable. Kat and Wesley could be every teenager in your school - both loners, slightly isolated and awkward in their own way. Kat finds her place online - confident, opinionated, funny, comfortable in her online community - until she becomes victim of an alt-right trolling campaign which leaves her feeling she has no other option but to hit escape and delete - and disappear. As her online persona disappears so she literally begins to fade away in real life. Without her online identity, who is she? As she disappears from real life, her tormentor, Wesley, part of a much nastier online crowd, realises he is the only person who remembers her. Overcome by guilt he tries to halt her disappearance. Once faded, we eavesdrop the one-sided and painfully honest conversations Kat has with those in the real world. These insights and the friendship and support she finds in another faded girl, Safa, give Kat the confidence to be herself, both online and in the real world. Wesley meanwhile must overcome his own background and beliefs and pressure from his peers in order to save not just Kat but himself too. The cutting between perspectives as Kat and Wesley tell their own side of the stories, cleverly increases the tension, shows how easy it is to get caught up in online worlds and makes the reader think. The characters are all annoyingly and infuriatingly human. While we can never forgive Wesley, we do come to understand his background and the effect it has on his motivations. The ending and the way the two sides of the story come together is positive, empowering and hopeful. The message is an important one for teenagers: find people you can be yourself with, be kind. This is a timely and terrifying look at the toxic side of the internet and trolling, at how quickly men can be influenced by the actions and misogynistic attitudes of others online, at right wing hate groups, at cyberbullying and its lasting, unstoppable effects. This is no long diatribe about the evils of the internet though, the arguments are honest and balanced. The potential of social media to be a force for good, to bring about positive change and and to bring people together is cleverly explored. This is an emotionally honest book which young people will identify with, will want to talk about and and which will definitely make them think. Adults working with teenagers will be angry, appalled and frustrated - but still need to read this! With the forthcoming changes to the PSHE curriculum and the focus on the negative impacts of social media on mental health, this is an essential addition to any school library collection to provoke discussion and develop empathy. Owen dares to say what other authors have - until now - only implied. A massively underrated author, this deserves to be his breakthrough book. Lovers of Lonely People will also appreciate Alice Oseman's Radio Silence and Solitaire which tackle issues of identity and friendship through the mediums of podcasts and blogging with an authentically teenage voice. Non Pratt's Truth or Dare is a very clever and emotional dual narrative which also examines the positive and negatives of the internet, this time through youtube. Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl looks at the impact of fanfiction on identity, love and friendship, while Butter by Erin Lange is a very hard-hitting portrayal of how much body image is affected by social media. 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

All The Lonely People
She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women
Ana Sampson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509899425

Poetry is enjoying something of a revival at present with verse novels by writers such as Sarah Crossan and Kwame Alexander gathering awards and illustrated collections for younger readers such as The Lost Words and I Am The Seed That Grew the Tree attracting wide press coverage and book gifting. Poetry for pleasure still deserves a much bigger place on our curriculum though - She Is Fierce could be a great starting point to change all that. An inspired and inspiring gift book comprising 150 'brave, bold and beautiful poems', all are carefully chosen to chart the territory of poetry by women from classic to contemporary. Where well-known poets such as Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Charlotte Bronte, Maya Angelou, Carol Ann Duffy and Grace Nichols are included, the poems chosen are less well-known so the whole collection has a fresh and exciting feel. Among the poets Sampson discovered during her research are 'thinkers, innovators, suffragettes, schoolgirls, civil rights activists, online sensations, aristocrats, an eighteenth century kitchen maid, spoken word superstars and more'. What unites them all is 'educational, religious and social limitations on their freedom both to write and - especially - to publish' Sampson curates the poems into typically teen friendly topics: 'Roots and Growing Up, Friendship and Love, Nature, Freedom, Mindfulness and Joy, Fashion, Society and Body Image, Protest, Courage and Resistance, Endings.' The irresistible appeal of an anthology such as this is that it will always be subjective, there will always be something extra the reader thinks should have been included or omitted, but Ana's passion for the mighty task she has set herself shines through every poem, making this an ideal collection both for poetry lovers and those who need to be converted. This is a book to dip in and out of, a book to come back to, a book to grow up with. Readers of all types will recognise something of themselves in this book. Short, very readable biographies of each poet are helpfully included at the back of the anthology with lists of other works to to inspire young people to read on for themselves. Fittingly published to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage, She Is Fierce highlights those important conversations which continue to rage on women's rights and equality in all areas. It could usefully be used as a resource for PSHE lessons as well as English, as a poem-a-day lesson starter, in assembly, as a thought for the day discussion starter or a registration activity. ;It could be read alongside Chris Riddell's illustrated anthology Poems to Live Your Life By or Allie Esiri's A Poem for Every Day/Night of the Year. If it is the feminist angle which appeals, students could be pointed towards Kay Woodward's What Would She Do? - real life stories of rebel women who changed the world. 304 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

She is Fierce: Brave, Bold  and Beautiful Poems by Women