Scholastic

The Switching Hour

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…never let the outside in…

A terrible drought has the land in its clutches. Every night, Amaya watches her grandmother go through the ritual of locking the door to keep them, her todling brother, Kaleb, and her pet goat, Tao, safe from Badoko. Awoken by the drought, this monstrous creature snatches people away and feeds on their dreams. After three days, all memory of the missing one will disappear, leaving those remaining with the Sorrow Sickness, an all consuming grief.

When Kaleb is taken, Amaya is overcome with guilt and knows that she must rescue her little brother before she forgets him completely.

A compelling tale of bravery and love, ‘The Switching Hour’ is a magical story, rich in the traditions of myth, legend and folklore. Evocative language brings to life the parched landscape which forms its backdrop and the relentless heat permeates the story.

Amaya , determined to remember her little brother and to rescue him-and the other stolen children- from Badoko, is brave and resourceful, finding friendship and conquering fears on her quest. At times vulnerable and quite naive, she is a heroine the reader can identify with and support all the way, desperate for her to succeed in her task. Tau, her goat, is just wonderful - a companion like no other!

Deliciously creepy in places, ‘The Switching Hour’ is an atmospheric and immersive read.

The Switching Hour Damaris Young

Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407195049

The LOLLIES 2020 Shortlist announced!

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Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its fourth year, created by Scholastic UK, to celebrate the funniest children’s books.

Having long championed humorous books for children, Rosen said of the shortlist: “Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job. Funny books are so important because they draw you through, and you have a wonderful, time and feel good. What could be better than that?”

The Lollies, sponsored by Happy Monkey Smoothies, are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows:

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and illustrated by Stephen Collins (Bloomsbury/ 9781408891193)

Spyder by Matt Carr (Scholastic/9781407172910)

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Tor Freeman (Andersen Press/ 9781783447510)

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nikki Dyson (Macmillan/9781509821440)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds:

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn (HarperCollins/9780008268060)

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre (OUP/9780192766090)

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton (Simon & Schuster/ 9781471163838)

World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins/ 9780008304591)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds:

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson (Bloomsbury/ 9781472955487)

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury/ 9781408877753)

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, and illustrated by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury/9781408884553)

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge (OUP9780192759047)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website, www.scholastic.co.uk/lollies, or via the Lollies PopJam channel.

The winning books will be announced in early 2020.

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We love a funny book and there are some real JAB favourites here which have been very popular with children in our schools. You can read our reviews of Spyder, Bad Nana and The Legend of Kevin . We will be encouraging our children to vote!

Good luck to everyone on the list!

NSTBA MOVING ON CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

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The second part of our Moving On Category…

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When their art club teacher is found murdered, sisters Nik and Norva are determined to use their detective skills to solve the crime. There are plenty of suspects- including their father- so the girls have to work quickly to uncover the truth, using their knowledge of the Tri- the estate where they live- and the people who live these.

This is an excellent mystery story with plenty of interest and action. The sibling relationship between Nik and Norva is perfectly captured and each of their personalities is fully rounded. Nik is particularly endearing! The book conveys a wonderful sense of community on the Tri- named for its three tower blocks in a triangular formation- and the reader is able to navigate the estate through the eyes of the girls, giving a sense of involvement to the reader as they solve the crime.

Each character’s voice is distinct and the use of plenty of dialogue helps the story move along at a great pace. Nik’s case notes are helpful as the girls unravel this satisfying mystery. An excellent read!

High Rise Mystery Sharna Jackson

Knights Of ISBN: 978-1999642518

You can read another review of this here.

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When starting at her new school, Effie soon realises that changes need to be made. A girl of action, she decides to run for Junior Student President, presenting a surprise challenge to the current one. With the support of her next door neighbour and a wonderful campaign team, Effie launches herself into making the school a better place of everyone with her policies and ideas. But will these be enough to challenge the status quo?

Effie is a wonderful character- full of vim and vigour and a strong sense of justice. Starting a new school and being friendless is really hard and the story follows Efiie as she navigates a new setting and finds those friends. She learns much about herself during the story, about having to compromise sometimes and that first impressions are not always right, Opinionated and sparky, Effie doe not always get things right, but she cares and her determination and resilience have the reader cheering her on every step of the way.

A must read!

Vote for Effie Laura Wood

Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407187723

You can read another review of this here.

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Set in 1922, ‘Secrets of a Sun King’ is a fascinating historical story which cleverly uses the world’s fascination with Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb as its backdrop. The Great War is over, leaving the country relieved, but counting the heavy cost of the conflict. Social traditions and gender roles are being challenged and life will never be the same.

Thirteen year old Lilian, like much of the nation, avidly follows Carter’s search for the Boy King’s tomb, inspired by the fact that her Grandfather used to be an archaeologist. When her grandfather falls ill, Lil intercepts a mysterious parcel addressed to him, sent by a famous Egyptologist, Professor Hanawati - who has been found dead. Lil decides she must fulfil the Professor’s plea and return the contents of the parcel to its tomb on her grandfather’s behalf. A chance encounter at the British Museum leads to the opportunity for a trip to Egypt with Tulip and Oz Mendoza, and their journalist mother and Lil is off on the adventure of a lifetime.

Emma Carroll writes excellent historical fiction, carefully researched and richly written. The discovery of the boy king’s tomb had the world gripped, but there was far more going on than the image presented to the press. The sense of entitlement and ownership felt by the archaeologists plundering Egypt’s tombs is cleverly questioned throughout the story whilst personal scars left by the war are still raw as society and everyone’s place in it changes. Tutankhamun’s own story- that of the child behind the Pharaoh- is also explored through a scroll the children find, questioning how the young king died and the life he led.

Characterisation is strong throughout the story. Lil, the scholarship girl who struggles to fit in, bold and daring Tulip who hides secrets, the sun king himself- each is carefully drawn and filled with life. All the threads are skilfully pulled together, creating a satisfying story to be enjoyed.

An excellent book for those children at the moving on stage, ‘Secrets of a Sun King’ could encourage budding Egyptologists to discover more about Tutankhamun’s life- and death- and the world he lived in.

Secrets of a Sun King Emma Carroll

Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571328499

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On a stormy night, a hundred year's ago, a baby gorilla was born deep in the African rain forest. The gorilla elders prophesied that this baby would meet with many misfortunes. So begins the story of Sally Jones.

Kidnapped and smuggled to Istanbul, trained as a thief, abandoned, locked in a small and dirty cage, beaten and treated with great cruelty- these are a few of the misfortunes which poor Sally is subjected to in the course of her life before she finds peace and companionship at last.

Written as the prequel to 'The Murderer's Ape', 'The Legend of Sally Jones' is the story of Sally Jones' life before she met her friend, the Chief, and found a home on board the Hudson Queen. It is a sad story of man's callous attitude to animals and how casually they abuse them for their own ends. Rich white Europeans are shown exploiting the land and its animals. Belgian hunters, a Turkish ivory merchant, a rich widow from Hamburg, zoo keepers- each play their part in Sally's sad life. Only Koskela, a Finnish seaman,shows her the kindness and respect she deserves, nursing her back to health and valuing her.

Each page is beautifully illustrated with one panel, often framed in interesting and unusual ways,
reminiscent of old fashioned travel posters. So much emotion and additional detail is conveyed to the reader through these pictures. Sally's deep despair and dejection are plain for all to see through her eyes and her body language.

'The Legend of Sally Jones' is a stunning graphic novel which allows readers of 'The Murderer's Ape' to discover the early history of Sally Jones, a compelling heroine like no other. It is a book which the reader will return to again and again.

The Legend of Sally Jones Jakob Wegelius

Pushkin Children’s ISBN: 978-1782692331

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Having ADHD makes it hard for him to concentrate, but Felix does his best to focus. His slipping grades are a worry and everyone keeps telling him to try harder. His parents are under great pressure from work and his Granddad hasn't been the same since Grandma died. When mum suggests they spend more time together, Felix is horrified, particularly as Granddad seems determined to teach him to play chess. However, chess seems to be the key to unlocking their relationship and helping Felix discover strengths and talents he never knew he had.

This is a truly remarkable story. Felix's relationship with his grandfather is beautifully portrayed as it blossoms through the understanding and respect that comes from spending time together. In helping his grandson, Granddad comes to terms with his grief at the loss of his wife and also the impact of his past. As Felix gains in confidence, his concentration improves and his school work benefits.

The first person narrative allows the reader to see the thoughts of someone with ADHD and sympathise with how his actions are easily misunderstood, resulting in his frequently being in trouble. It also creates great tension during the chess matches where Felix's nerves and anxiety are brilliantly expressed.

Full of strong characters, 'Check Mates' is an excellent read.

Check Mates Stewart Foster

Simon and Schuster ISBN: 978-1471172236

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Orphan, Matthew Henson, runs away from his violent step-mother to find a new life in New York. Hard working and determined, young Matthew manages to find work in a cafe. Listening to the sea going stories of characters like Baltimore Jack, Matthew embarks on a life at sea as a cabin boy and ends up accompanying Captain Peary on his adventure to ‘discover’ the North Pole. In spite of being the first of the party to reach their goal, Matthew was given no recognition on return to America.

This is a fabulous account of one of the unsung heroes of history. Having battled against the odds, his achievements were unacknowledged during his lifetime and are little known today so this very readable book is an essential addition to libraries and classrooms. The significant contribution made by the Inuit who gave their expertise and support to the exhibition and Matthew’s positive relationship with them are also highlighted in this stunning book.

This book could have taken a place in either our Quality Fiction or our Information categories as it is perfect for use in class; however, this is an extremely satisfying read about a fascinating character with plenty of challenge in terms of content and vocabulary, perfect for moving on those who don’t find reading easy.

Race to the Frozen North Catherine Johnson, illustrated by Katie Hickey

Barrington Stoke ISBN: 978-1-78112-840-4