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Reviews

The vegetarian cookbook

The vegetarian cookbook


Dorling K

An excellent one-volume resource that could suit children, parents or just a generally clueless cook (me!) with really appetising recipes that all seem very achievable. There's great coverage of some basics like what equipment you need and key cookery techniques, and there's some standard classics as well as more unusual and wide-ranging recipes - avocado and banana ice cream anyone?? A sound buy for schools use or for leisure collections in libraries.

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 6th December 2019
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Blood heir

Blood heir

Amelie Wen Zhao
HarperCollins

A cracking debut fantasy using a skillfully depicted world to examine the issues of human trafficking and indentured labour. The female lead is sensitively drawn and her personal relationship and struggle with the structure of her society follows an enlightening path. A touch of romance softens the gritty themes! A good read that can also be used to spark debate on many levels. First in a trilogy

This is a debut novel for Korean American for Amelie Wen Zhao which caused much controversy before it was published, and caused her to pull the book from publication for a while. Some voices argued that Zhao’s depiction of slavery was racially insensitive, others argued that the novel dealt insensitively with race and the legacy of slavery, and was an affront to nonwhite communities. However an equally vociferous group argued that the online Y.A. community had become too cutthroat, even intolerant, in its attacks on first-time authors who tackle challenging social issues or write outside their immediate cultural experience. Some of the criticisms came from those who had not actually read the book.

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 3rd December 2019
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Hidden wonders

Hidden wonders

Nicole Maggi
Lonely Planet Pubns

A beautifully produced volume with great appeal on shelf, easy to pick up for browsing and hard to put down. The variety and breadth of places chosen are huge, and the light style is very absorbing. Well worth adding to any leisure collection, and will have you searching for more information on your favourite enties.

Lucy Forrester Reviewed by Lucy Forrester on 25th November 2019
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Snow foal

Snow foal

Susanna Bailey
Egmont Books

When eleven-year-old Addie goes to stay with a foster-care family on a remote Exmoor farm, she is angry and hurt. She trusts no-one and is desperate to get home to her mam. But when she becomes involved in caring for an abandoned foal and realises that she is the only human he trusts, Addie and the foal form an unbreakable bond. 

At first glance this appears to be a classic animal rescue story, with a cosy rural setting and cute baby horse. But the backbreaking work of farming, and the heartbreaking realities of why children end up in foster care, are not glossed over and the result is a novel that demands more of the reader. Addie's reason for being in foster care is slowly revealed, allowing the reader to gradually get to know her character and to sympathise with her predicament. The other characters are engaging and believable too, with the fellow foster children particularly well-written.

As the story reaches its moving and realistic conclusion, the twin strands of Addie's story and that of the foal, combine for a heartwarming but never saccharine read that fans of Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy will enjoy. 

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 25th November 2019
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Guardians of the planet

Guardians of the planet

Clive Gifford
Buster Bks

What an interesting book full of fascinating facts about protecting our planet. Great ideas for ways to be an"Eco-Hero". Well worth having in Conservation collections and in libraries.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 18th November 2019
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Silly Mr Wolf

Silly Mr Wolf

Tony Ross
Andersen Pr

Another take on the well-worn wolf-in-sheep's-clothing but it is done here with great wit and skill, and you probably won't see the ending coming! Great stuff for every collection.

Catherine MacKenzie Reviewed by Catherine MacKenzie on 11th November 2019
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The boy who loved everyone

The boy who loved everyone

Jane Porter
Walker Bks

This book is just so, so lovely that I actually found myself welling up when reading it to my children! I absolutely loved the portrayal of nursery life in the illustrations - they are so well observed. The story is gentle and warm and kind-hearted without being saccharine. Perfect for teaching children about empathy but also nice to share at bedtime at the end of a long day.

Hannah Middleton Reviewed by Hannah Middleton on 8th November 2019
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Nevertell

Nevertell

Katharine Orton
Walker Bks

Lina was born in a Soviet prison camp, and the harsh life there is all she has ever known. The thought of one day leaving and being able to find her grandmother gives her hope. So when she gets the chance to escape, Lina jumps at the chance to start a new life. But along with her friend Bogdan, she soon discovers that there are worse things in the forest than the hunger and cold...

A skillful, immediately engaging read, this is a fantastic debut from an author to watch. The combination of historical novel, Russian folklore and fantasy quest is perfectly pitched and hugely enjoyable. Not only is the writing a joy, but the believable and likeable characters, and fast-paced plot should keep readers hooked. Neither the historical or fantasy elements are overdone, making this appealing to a wide range of interests. An essential addition to shelves. 

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 8th November 2019
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My monster and me

My monster and me

Nadiya Hussain
Hodder

A fabulous story with a very important message about mental health and sharing worries. Delightful illustrations show the worry Monster shrinking as the child talks about their worries and grows in confidence. A great way of showing younger children strategies to deal with worries they may have. Well worth having.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 1st November 2019
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Jackpot

Jackpot

Nic Stone
Simon & S

This is an unusual tale which seems like a quest to find a winning lottery ticket but actually isn't about that at all, it's easy to get invested in the characters and we learn all about their lives and struggles, and even the seemingly 'obvious' romance between our two good-looking, charismatic and charming leads doesn't really move in obvious ways. The ending may leave you reeling with frustration that it all works out a bit too well for our newly-minted young people or be charmed by the fairy tale-ness of it all! This is the author's third novel (I've only read two of them) but her dynamic characters really do have a unique spark. 

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 28th October 2019
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Oxford Roald Dahl thesaurus

Oxford Roald Dahl thesaurus

Susan Rennie
Oxford U P

Inventive and infinitely browsable, this book successfully incorporates Dahl's imaginative flair for language with the more functional purpose of a thesaurus. May not be used in the normal way in a classroom but it is a fun way to inspire kids (and adults!) to more creative writing and you can just immerse yourself in it for ages, flicking back and forth. A total must-have

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 28th October 2019
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The good luck girls

The good luck girls

Charlotte Nicole Davis
Hot Key Books

It feels as though there are a lot of strong female-led fantasy adventures around at the moment but what set this one apart was the excellent world building and the food for thought it offered the reader. This is a very assured debut that is bound to be enjoyed by genre fans.

Hannah Middleton Reviewed by Hannah Middleton on 22nd October 2019
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The star outside my window

The star outside my window

Onjali Q Rauf
Orion

Sensitive, moving portrayal of a very tricky topic which manage a lightness of touch and touches of humour despite the heavy subject material. Useful support but also a wonderful leisure read.

Catherine MacKenzie Reviewed by Catherine MacKenzie on 21st October 2019
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The extremely inconvenient adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

The extremely inconvenient adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

Jaclyn Moriarty
Guppy Publishing Ltd

This is a thoroughly enjoyable and unusual adventure story: the world building is vivid, the characters are charmingly eccentric and the reader feels fully invested in Bronte's fate. It's intelligently written with so much care and wit. I absolutely loved it,

Hannah Middleton Reviewed by Hannah Middleton on 11th October 2019
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The little island

The little island

Smriti Prasadam-Halls
Andersen Pr

This engaging and entertaining tale works both as an allegory for Brexit, and as an enjoyable story. 

On a farm where all of the animals are friends, the geese begin to gossip amongst themselves about how much better life would be if they lived separately from everyone else. They hatch a plan to cut themselves off from the farm, and convince themselves that life is perfect now. But is it really better to be on your own?

Ideal for explaining the current political situation to preschoolers, The Little Island is a positive, hopeful picture book with a happy ending. Perfect for these uncertain times! 

Hannah Middleton Reviewed by Hannah Middleton on 4th October 2019
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