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Reviews

The Hatmakers

The Hatmakers

Tamzin Merchant
Puffin

Magical realism/historical blend works very well, and this is a rip-roaring adventure of the first degree with a determined main character, spunky supporting cast, and sneaky villains. Great debut read, with a hint at more to come

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 1st March 2021
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The girls I've been

The girls I've been

Tess Sharpe
Hodder

Electrifying thriller with powerful characterisation and an excellent plot, full of shocking twists. Intelligently written and a really enjoyable read.

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 22nd February 2021
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The last bear

The last bear

Hannah Gold
HarperCollins

Excellent debut novel, with a strong central character and a compelling narrative. April and Bear's relationship is well described, although some events perhaps stretch credulity. Ideal for animal loving top juniors, and has class read potential.

Paul Cunningham Reviewed by Paul Cunningham on 17th February 2021
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The boy who made everyone laugh

The boy who made everyone laugh

Helen Rutter
Scholastic

An emotional roller-coaster of a story handling a number of serious issues sensitively through the eyes of a likeable main character that readers will be rooting for. A captivating read interspersed with some groan-worthy jokes! An author to watch.

Leanne Jephcott Reviewed by Leanne Jephcott on 8th February 2021
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The island

The island

C L Taylor
HQ Young Adult

Gripping from the start, full of tension and thought provoking moments. The characters are recognisable and familiar to the reader. An excellent addition to teen collections. Worth having.

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 1st February 2021
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When the world was ours

When the world was ours

Liz Kessler
Simon & S

Powerfully effective storytelling, the short chapters told from each child's viewpoint adding to the emotional impact. Genuinely moving, especially the ending. Highly recommended.
Does not shy away from the horrors of war - we have categorised this as top Junior Fiction, but the depictions of the Holocaust, including concentration camps, may lead some to prefer this as Younger Teenage.

Paul Cunningham Reviewed by Paul Cunningham on 25th January 2021
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Love is for losers

Love is for losers

Wibke Brueggemann
Macmillan

Hilarious misadventures of our miserable heroine have great appeal, and unexpectedly moving denouncement adds emotional depth. Really enjoyable debut

Katie Merrick Reviewed by Katie Merrick on 19th January 2021
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Last one to die

Last one to die

Cynthia Murphy
Scholastic

A gripping page-turner from the start with believable characters you root for. For those who like to be on the sedge of your seat this is an ideal choice. A debut author worth watching

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 11th January 2021
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Darwin's dragons

Darwin's dragons

Lindsay Galvin
Chicken House

A great adventure story. Very readable and exciting, the writing is vivid and precise. This will inspire young readers to dream of unexplored lands. Good for all JF readers as chapters are a manageable length and keep you wanting more.

Emma McElwee Reviewed by Emma McElwee on 11th January 2021
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First day of my life

First day of my life

Lisa Williamson
David Fickling Bks

The premise feels both wholly unlikely and horribly realistic but the dynamic between the main characters is strongly portrayed and it is this that keeps you turning the pages. Covers a range of issues & emotions, a pacey, if slightly exhausting read

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 7th January 2021
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The tale of the valiant ninja frog

The tale of the valiant ninja frog

Alastair Chisholm
Walker Bks

Amusing tale with lively characters and expressive illustrations. Family are relatable and their storytelling skills very entertaining. Well worth stocking

Laura Hayward Reviewed by Laura Hayward on 17th December 2020
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Plague

Plague

Ben Hubbard
Watts

Gruesomely fascinating text supplies plenty of detail, and accompanying illustrations are great. Could be used for topic support or equally for general interest. References Covid-19

Lucy Forrester Reviewed by Lucy Forrester on 17th December 2020
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The midnight guardians

The midnight guardians

Ross Montgomery
Walker Bks

Takes a leap to accept the premise but the pages turn quickly and the mix of magical realism and WW2 tension works well. Gripping, unusual adventure with strong themes of self-belief, courage and the bonds of family and friendship.  

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 23rd November 2020
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The greatest inventor

The greatest inventor

Ben Brooks
Quercus Children's Books

Gripping from the first page, characters that you love and so many important messages about life! (Debt, time and enjoying who you are!)Well worth having in any collection. Would be a great discussion starter. Thoroughly enjoyable. I loved it!

Dawn Franklin Reviewed by Dawn Franklin on 16th November 2020
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Where snow angels go

Where snow angels go

Maggie O'Farrell
Walker Bks

A beautiful illustrated novel full of rich language with a nostalgic, dreamlike quality. Would suit a wide age range especially in an educational setting, either as a quick guided read for younger KS2, or as a challenging read for older KS1. Reads aloud well so also good for story time sharing.

Diane Gill Reviewed by Diane Gill on 5th November 2020
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