Waterstones Children’s Prize 2018

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The Waterstones Children’s Prize shortlist for 2018 has been announced. Chosen from the many thousands of new titles that pass through the Waterstones booksellers’ hands, the shortlist represents the very best of emerging talent in children’s publishing today.

There are three categories: illustrated books, younger fiction, and older fiction.

The illustrated books are:

  • I Really Want the Cake by Simon Philip and Lucia Gagiotti
  • Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann
  • The Night Box by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay
  • Superbat by Matt Carr
  • Fergal is Fuming! by Robert Starling
  • The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

The younger fiction books are:

  • A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan
  • Who Let The Gods Out? by Maz Evans
  • Kid Normal by Greg James, Chris Smith and Erica Salcedo
  • The Five Realms: The Legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood
  • The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  • Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

The older fiction books are:

  • The Disappearances by Emily Bain
  • Troublemakers by Catherine Barter
  • Ink by Alice Broadway
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy
  • This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The winner of each category, and the overall winner will be unveiled on Thursday 22 March. The titles can be borrowed from Wokingham Borough Libraries https://wokingham.spydus.co.uk or visit http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries

 

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Discover the Wellcome Book Prize 2018

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The Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2018 has been announced, celebrating the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness.

The longlist of twelve titles was chosen by a judging panel chaired by artist and writer Edmund de Waal OBE, with Dr Hannah Critchlow, Bryony Gordon, Sumit Paul-Choudhury and Sophie Ratcliffe.

The titles are:

  • Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
  • The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • In Pursuit of Memory: the fight against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli
  • Plot 29: a memoir by Allan Jenkins
  • The White Book by Han Kang
  • With the End in Mind: Dying, death and wisdom in an age of denial by Kathryn Mannix
  • Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
  • To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death by Mark O’Connell
  • I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen brushes with death by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Mayhem: A memoir by Sigrid Rausing
  • Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky
  • The Vaccine Race: How scientists used human cells to combat killer viruses by Meredith Wadman

Three of the novels are about the different stages of love, life, birth and death. The three memoirs look at the impact of addiction, trauma and near-death experiences. Death and mortality are explored through palliative care workers and an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The list includes the science of our cells to the science of our minds, and looks to the history and the future of medical science.

The shortlist for the prize will be anounced on Tuesday 20 March, with the winner revealed on Monday 30 April at the Wellcome Collection in London.

All these titles are available to reserve from Wokingham Borough Libraries. To order your copy, pop into any branch, or visit the libraries website http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/

International Women’s Day Book Group discusses The Power by Naomi Alderman-Thursday March 8 2018

imagesJoin us for our one-off International Women’s Day Book Group at Wokingham Library and discuss the award winning feminist read The Power by Naomi Alderman

All over the world women are discovering they have the power. With a flick of the fingers they can inflict terrible pain – even death. Suddenly, every man on the planet finds they’ve lost control. The Day of the Girls has arrived – but where will it end?

The Power was winner of the Bailey’s Women’s prize for Fiction in 2017 and one of Barack Obama’s Best Books of 2017. This book was described as ‘Electrifying’by Margaret Atwood and ‘A big, page-turning, thought-provoking thriller’ by The Guardian.

The group will meet on Thursday March 8 at Wokingham Library , 6pm to 7pm. Call (0118) 9781368 to book a place. Free event.

If you have not read the book yet, a copy will be available to borrow from Wokingham Library from 8th February 2018, please speak to a member of staff.  The book is 50p to borrow and overdue charges apply.

 

 

 

Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards

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The shortlist for the Edward Stanford 2018 Travel Writing Awards (in association with Hayes & Jarvis) has been announced. In 1853 Edward Stanford established his map-making business in the heart of London. His maps fuelled a passion for adventure, exploration and foreign travel, which in turn led to an explosion in travel writing. These awards exist to celebrate this most exciting of genres.

There are ten different categories, which are judged by expert panels. In some cases there is also a public vote: http://www.edwardstanfordawards.com/vote which will be combined with the panel votes. Everyone that votes on the awards website will be entered into a draw to win sets of travel books.

The categories consist of:

Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing 

Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year

Fiction, with a Sense of Place

Adventure Travel Book of the Year

Children’s Travel Book of the Year

Travel Cookery Book of the Year

Photography & Illustrated Travel Book of the Year

Outstanding General Travel Themed Book of the Year

Lonely Planet Pathfinders Travel Blog of the Year

Bradt Travel Guides New Travel Writer of the Year

Have a look at the shortlisted titles http://edwardstanfordawards.com/vote Many of the books are available in Wokingham libraries – reserve a copy at http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

blue-peter-book-awards-2018-logo-16x9[1]Since 2000, the enormously popular and influential Blue Peter Book Awards have been recognising and celebrating the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children.

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 celebrates children’s books published in the last year in two categories: the Best Story and the Best Book with Facts.

Here are the fiction nominations.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell is a story about a girl living in a world at the start of the Iron Age, but where magic is real. The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargreave is also shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, and is a depiction of a young girl’s struggles living in a leprosy colony. Lissa Evans’ Wed Wabbit is a properly funny fantasy adventure about two troubled children who stumble on a land ruled by a toy rabbit.

Here are the shortlisted titles for non-fiction.

Real-Life Mysteries is an ideal book for anyone who’s been intrigued by stories about sightings of Big Foot, UFOs, crop circles and ghosts. Corpse Talk – Ground-Breaking Scientists examines some of the the greatest scientists you’ve ever heard of. Finally, Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe by Dara O’Briain takes readers on a hilarious journey through the solar system and beyond.

All these titles are available to borrow from Wokingham Borough Libraries – why not reserve a copy today via the online catalogue? http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/

Spotlight on picture books

Picture books are stocked by all of our Wokingham Borough Libraries, and are extremely popular. We have received a lot of new picture books this week, which are all nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. This is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book in terms of illustrations for children and young people.

This is a selection of the titles that we have bought. The nominations were published earlier this month, and the longlist is announced on February 18th 2018.

Michael Rosen, the English children’s novelist and poet, and Children’s Laureate from 2007 to 2009, recently tweeted – “Parents who share hundreds of picture books with their under-5s enable their children to make cognitive leaps through trying to interpret the logic and meanings suggested by the unstated differences between the pictures and the text”.

Picture books are also great fun! Print

 

Young People’s Book Prize Display at Wokingham Library

The Royal Society celebrates the best books that communicate science to young people through their Young People’s Book Prize. Each year an expert panel of adult judges choose a shortlist of their favourite science books from entries submitted by publishers. 2017 shortlist

  • A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davis, illustrated by Petr Horácek (Walker books)
  • 100 Things to Know About Space by Alex Frith, Alice James and Jerome Martin, illustrated by Shaw Nielsen and Federico Mariani (Usborne Publishing Ltd)
  • Home Lab by Robert Winston (DK)
  • This Little Pebble by Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Sally Garland (Hachette Children’s Group)
  • The Awesome Body Book by Adam Frost (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
  • If…A Mind-Bending Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J Smith, illustrated by Steve Adams (Hachette Children’s Books)

Library staff at Wokingham Library have created this amazing science themed display to promote the Young People’s Book Prize 2017.

 

Wokingham Library, Denmark Street, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 2BB Telephone 0118 978 1368 or E-mail libraries@wokingham.gov.uk

Opening hours:

  • Monday 9.30am -7pm
  • Tuesday 9.30am-5pm
  • Wednesday 9.30am-4pm
  • Thursday 9.30am -7pm
  • Friday 9.30am-5pm
  • Saturday 9.30am-4pm

To renew your books online visit: http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/libraries-online/search-renew-and-reserve-items/

Book of the Month July 2017- The Power by Naomi Alderman

Each month we choose a book for adults to recommend, available in our libraries. if you have views on the book please let us know via Facebook or Twitter. The Power is also now available as part of Wokingham Borough Libraries Book Clubs loan collection. If you would like to borrow it for your group email bookgroups@wokingham.gov.uk or call (0118) 9781368

Naomi Alderman describes The Power in her own words:The+Power (1)

My new novel, The Power, was published by Penguin on 27th October 2016. It’s a piece of feminist science fiction – or speculative fiction, or fiction about a fictional thing rather than a real thing (curious concept). In the novel, very suddenly almost all the women in the world develop the power to electrocute people at will. Anything from a tiny tingle all the way to full electro-death. And then everything is different.

The novel follows four main characters as they pick their way across this changed world. There’s Roxy, the daughter of a London crime family with three older brothers; she was never supposed to take over the family business but she starts to have other ideas. There’s Tunde, a young journalism student in Lagos, who sees that the revolution needs documenting, and gets himself into some dicey situations trying to be the one to do it. There’s Allie, who comes from a troubled background in the South of the USA and sees that what people need is something new to believe in. And there’s Margot, who was a low-level politician in New England but begins to have new ambitions.

It’s a novel of ideas – what would happen if women had the power to cause pain and destruction? Do we really believe that women are naturally peaceful and nurturing? How much of gender is in our expectations of violence? But it’s also a thriller; in pursuit of power each of the main characters will eventually come into conflict with the others, and they’re each a force to be reckoned with.

At the novel’s heart is the question of power: who has it, how do you get it, what does it do to you when you’ve got it? And when you wield the power, how long will it be before the power wields you?

The novel was also the winner of this year’s  Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction

 

 

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 winner announced next week, have you read the shortlist?

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 shortlist available to borrow from Wokingham Borough Libraries

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Named after the popular nineteenth century artist, known for her beautiful children’s illustrations and designs, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2017 shortlist

wildWild Animals of the North illustrated and written by Dieter Braun

A gorgeously illustrated study of the Northern Hemisphere’s wild animals, this biologically accurate encyclopaedia of beasts will enthral all. Through Dieter Braun’s beautiful and colourful illustrations, readers will be dazzled by the polar bears and orcas of the Arctic, Europe’s red foxes and swans, the pumas of North America, Asian pandas and many more!

These beautiful, expressive illustrations of animals capture their motion and personality in a way that is truly remarkable for such stylized images. The 3D effect of the stunning geometric line and use of colour makes them truly live and breathe on the page. The colour palette is subtle but beautifully suited to both habitats and the animals we meet there. The variety of layout makes every page turn a surprise and continually engages the reader’s interest. The interplay of text and images make this a really enjoyable and memorable learning experience.

tidyTIDY illustrated and written by Emily Gravett

Brand new from the critically acclaimed Emily Gravett, comes TIDY, a hilarious, vibrantly illustrated, rhyming tale about a badger called Pete, who is slightly over-zealous in his desire for complete cleanliness. Pete likes things neat, but unfortunately his forest home is not the tidiest of dwellings. As the weather, the Seasons, not to mention the other animals, hamper Pete’s dreams of a uncluttered existence, the crafty badger hatches a plan that is bound to keep everything permanently spick and span. But when Pete goes too far and concretes over his woodland home, he begins to realise that maybe his actions have caused more harm than good. And maybe a bit of mess now and again is actually rather a positive thing?

This charming and witty story perfectly delivers its message of environmental preservation with subtlety and humour. The depth of quality in its production is outstanding; the multi-layered hole on the front cover, the double sided dust jacket and the wonderful flaps draw in and delight the reader. Lush foliage and vibrant forest colours shine through, as the palette subtly changes to reflect the seasons. Full of humour and skilful comic visual details, such as the wonderful badger-like decoration on the vacuum cleaner, this is a book to delight readers of all ages.

wolvesThe Wolves of Currumpaw illustrated and written by William Grill

1892, New Mexico. A wolfpack roams the Currumpaw Valley, preying on the cattle and evading capture by the exasperated local ranchmen. Due to his knowledge of wolf behaviour, a British naturalist by the name of Ernest Thompson Seton is employed to hunt down their notorious pack leader, King Lobo… A moving re-telling of the first short story from Ernest Thompson Seton’s 1898 classic collection, Wild Animals I Have Known, this is the second book from CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal award winner William Grill.

The large format of this book allows the reader a great visual experience, echoing the vast plains of New Mexico. The beautifully rendered dust jacket and end papers, inspired by Navajo and Hopi designs, usher the reader into this atmospheric tale. The colour palette is chosen with utmost care and the technique of sweeping pencil strokes evoke the setting and easily allow the scale of the desert to show the insignificance of man and wolf in the whole area. This book works on many levels, from the unobtrusive typography telling the story, the tactile nature of the endpaper illustrations to the synergy between illustration style and the setting of the tale. Text and images and are all carefully placed on the page, underlining the scale of the desert; whilst the movement of the wolves is so simply expressed. Grill’s style is unique, distinctive and highly creative so much so that this books works on many levels, it is a deceptively simple medium showing a depth of richness and skill that is a testament to his skill.

harryHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay, written by J.K. Rowling

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

An outstanding illustrated version of a modern children’s classic, ready to bring a new generation of readers into the magical world of Harry Potter. These illustrations go back to the text and lure the reader away from the familiar film images. The artist has added so much more depth and detail to bring this world to life. For example there is a whole street worth of invented detail in Diagon Alley and we have intricate scientific drawings of the various species of troll that inhabit this world. There is an astonishing range of techniques and artistry shown throughout the book in a variety of full page portraits, small vignettes, chapter headings and the glorious end papers. This visualisation enhances the text and offers the reader a whole new, deeper and authentic experience.

cuddleA Great Big Cuddle illustrated by Chris Riddell and written by Michael Rosen

Two of the biggest names in children’s publishing, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell, come together in a new poetry collection. The poems in A Great Big Cuddle fizz off the page with sound and rhythm, energy and laughter, as Rosen captures in the most remarkable way what it means to be very, very young. A child’s world with all its details and feelings – toys and games, animals and made-up creatures, likes and dislikes – is vividly conjured up in the most memorable, playful language, and Chris Riddell has produced some his most extraordinary pictures ever to bring this world to life. It’s a book that will be enjoyed by the oldest grown-up and the youngest child – and a future classic.

This is an unusual size for a picture book, but the layout of each poem works to give the reader a different experience every time a page is turned. The poems requiring movement have that in abundance in both typography and in the illustration. The simple primary colour palette makes the illustrations bold and engaging. There is a creative use of the vignettes that really adds to the textual experience. The illustrations underline the nonsense of the poetry making this a very satisfying and distinctive experience. Two people at the height of their powers combining to make a great book for very young people.

journeyThe Journey illustrated and written by Francesca Sanna

What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but also great hope. Based on her interactions with people forced to seek a new home, and told from the perspective of a young child, The Journey is full of significance for our time.

These timely and distinctive illustrations offer a deep and emotional introduction to the losses and experiences that immigrant families face. A strong sense of movement is achieved throughout, as the family journey onwards in a quest for safety. The menace of war and evil are particularly well depicted through the imposing black sea representing the approaching war, and dense black shadows that bring a real and deep darkness with them. A carefully chosen palette of colours, tones and techniques are used to great effect in the depiction of both physical and emotional landscapes. Impressive use of the endpapers is made, as they respectively introduce and then continue the story. An unusual typeface is used for the sparse, yet moving text, resembling handwriting this poignantly emphasises the personal nature of the story. This book will have a powerful impact on readers of all ages.

marvelsThe Marvels illustrated and written by Brian Selznick

In The Marvels, Selznick weaves together two seemingly unrelated stories- one in words, the other in pictures -with spellbinding synergy. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heart-rending beauty, and featuring Selznick’s most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story.

This visually stunning book invites exploration from the first page. The whole production is a work of art that is outstanding on every level. Detailed cross-hatched illustrations carry the reader’s focus to the heart of characters, action and drama through a near-cinematic zooming in and panning out. There is a strong use of space and a real awareness of how different forms. come together to produce a story, creating an innovative and fully immersive experience.

tribeThere is a Tribe of Kids illustrated and written by Lane Smith

Lane Smith takes us on a colourful adventure through the natural world, following a child as he weaves through the jungle, dives under the ocean and soars into the sky. Along the way he makes friends and causes mischief with a dazzling array of creatures both large and small – but can he find a tribe of his own? Full of warmth and humour, There Is a Tribe of Kids is a playful exploration of wild childhood – of curiosity, discovery and what it means to belong.

There’s a wonderful sense of movement, animation and life in the illustrations to this book. A palette comprised of muted earth tones emphasises and extends the natural tone and themes of the book. Use of sequencing is controlled and there is an impressive synergy and balance between text and illustration. There is a warmth and wit in the play and imagination shown in the final spreads showing how the children are influenced and inspired by the world around them suggesting ideas around the way nurture and environmental factors can be formative in growth.

You can borrow these books from our libraries, so check out our catalogue to see if it’s in a library near you: http://bit.ly/1zSCJlf

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 winner announced next week, have you read the shortlist?

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 shortlist available to borrow from Wokingham Borough Libraries

The Carnegie Medal, awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children, was established in 1936 in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). A self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA, Carnegie’s experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that “If ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries.” He set up more than 2,800 libraries across the English speaking world and by the time of his death over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 shortlist

sputnikSputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Prez doesn’t talk anymore. He didn’t talk in The Temporary, where he was taken when his granddad started behaving oddly. He didn’t talk when The Family came, to take him to live on their farm in Dumfries for the summer. He is very good at listening though, which proves useful when a small, extremely talkative, mind-reading alien named Sputnik, arrives on The Family’s doorstep. Sputnik is on a mission; he needs Prez to show him ten reasons why Earth is worth saving, otherwise it will be shrunk to the size of a golf ball. Prez has no idea what to do – he can’t ask for help, because he doesn’t talk, and The Family also seem to think Sputnik is a small, yappy dog. Time is running out – how can Prez show Sputnik all the Wond

Wonderfully witty and wise this has the author’s trademark perfect blend of humour and pathos with realistic human characters existing within a tightly plotted, fantastically inventive and original adventure. There is a very satisfying complexity of ideas which make the reader think as well as laugh. This writer is particularly skilled at using fantasy to say something about the world we live in and how we relate to each other and it is the relationships which really matter. That between Prez and his grandfather with dementia is particularly well drawn and the ending of this uplifting story is both touching and credible.

boneThe Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he’s at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie. Carrying a notebook that she’s unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck – both talismans of her family’s past and the mother she’s lost – Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence. As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie’s family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures.

Simply and innocently told from a child’s perspective this important and timely novel brings to life the risks people are willing to take to make their voices heard and the resilience of the human spirit. Subhi’s hauntingly evocative descriptions of life in the camp deftly capture the claustrophobic feel of the camp, whilst his vivid imagination and love of stories provide a much needed escape from the awful reality of his situation. The plot is skilfully executed, blending together the two different narratives of the main characters, allowing both to influence the other’s life and propelling the action forward. Finally, the credible and consistent ending offers hope, but no easy happy ending.

smellThe Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother. Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father. Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled in these intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

Not a word is wasted in these lyrical stories of family, romance, tragedy good fortune and redemption. Short chapters with alternating points of view immerse readers into multiple storylines where there is a tonal balance between a sense of urgency and great reflection. The four protagonists are subtly and so convincingly developed it is difficult to imagine they are not real people. The author has succeeded in creating a thoroughly convincing world.

starsThe Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

Alice is 15, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has a brain injury, the result of an assault. Manny was once a child soldier. He is 16 and has lost all his family. Alice is reaching out to express herself through her beautiful-broken words, and Manny is running to escape his past. When Manny and Alice meet they find the beginnings of love and healing. The Stars at Oktober Bend is a powerful story about the strength of the human spirit.

Told in their distinctive and memorable narrative voices this is a wonderfully evocative tale of two damaged young people who find redemption and hope in their love for each other. The author’s use of poetry as a way for Alice to convey her innermost feelings and to reach out to the world around her, works extraordinarily well and the poems are simple and beautiful. The lyrical, outstanding writing throughout develops strong characterization and a vivid sense of place, as their tragic stories gradually unfold; building to a dramatic climax that brings each strand of the novel together in an intensely satisfying way.

railRailhead by Philip Reeve

Zen Starling is a petty thief. A nobody. Destined to ride the rails to nowhere special. That is until Raven, a strange and mysterious figure, enlists him for one small job. One small job that might just bring everything in this galaxy, and the next, to the end of the line.

The novel is difficult to characterise being a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, romance and thriller. A whole world is built through very imaginative use of language which underpins a complex but well-constructed plot. A plot that is kept light, inventive and original, engaging and fast-paced throughout with clever use of humour and wit. The characters are easy to relate to; due to the realistic and interesting way they are portrayed, even minor characters are rounded and engaging. Through exploration of some of the non-human characters there is an exploration of what it is to be human whilst also exploring quite harsh criticisms of society in subtle ways. This is an engaging, emotionally satisfying read, using exciting language to draw the reader in.

beckBeck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff

The final novel from Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet is a sweeping coming-of-age adventure, with all the characteristic beauty and strength of his prose. Born from a one-off liaison between a poor young woman and an African soldier in the 1900s, Beck is soon orphaned and sent to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. Shipped to work on a farm, his escape takes him across the continent in a search for belonging. Enduring abuse and many hardships, Beck has times of comfort and encouragement, eventually finding Grace, the woman with whom he can finally forge his life and shape his destiny as a young man. A picaresque novel set during the Depression as experienced by a young black man, it depicts great pain but has an uplifting and inspiring conclusion.

Gripping from start to finish, the writing in Beck is flawless, successfully balancing graphic cruelty with a gradual softening of tone as both the lead character and the story develop and grow. Beck himself, is witty, colloquial and utterly believable and heads up a cast of richly drawn, well rounded characters. This is a story that stays with readers reminding them that in spite of discrimination and hardship, there can be love, goodness and hope in the world.

saltSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. They converge in a desperate attempt to board an overcrowded ship in a Baltic port, which is tragically then sunk by a torpedo. Based on a true story, the incident was the worst maritime tragedy ever.

Mood is perfectly handled throughout this novel as we follow the characters, first through feelings of weariness as the journey towards the port, to anxiety at the prospect of not gaining a ticket to board, to sickness and overcrowding once on-board and, finally, to both desperation and hope in a traumatic conclusion. The structure of the book works exceptionally well as short chapters tell the interwoven stories and slowly reveal the secrets of our four distinctive narrators. Engaging, interesting and, at times, terrifying characters abound as historical events are brought to life through their collective stories. This is a haunting and beautiful novel that breathes life into one of World War II’s most terrifying and little-known tragedies.

wolfWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle’s calm world is shattered, along with everything she’s ever known about right and wrong. When Betty accuses gentle loner Toby – a traumatised ex-soldier – of a terrible act, Annabelle knows he’s innocent. Then Betty disappears . . . Now Annabelle must protect Toby from the spiraling accusations and hysteria, until she can prove to Wolf Hollow what really happened to Betty.

The language used in this novel exquisitely conveys the atmosphere of the 1940s American rural setting. The naivety of the voice vividly conveys the mores of the time and the young narrator. Every character is believable, well developed and fully rounded, combined with well observed small domestic details. This is a truthful exploration of a small-time attitudes and injustice without being overly sentimental, and exploring questions of morality within the confines of the story. In places, it has shades of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, making it a rich and satisfying read.

You can borrow these books from our libraries, so check out our catalogue to see if it’s in a library near you: http://bit.ly/1zSCJlf