Bookshelf Quality Fiction

Me and Mr P: Joe's New World

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When Joe is faced with a big move to a new country, leaving behind his friends, most of his family and his pet dog, he’s worried about making new friends and fitting in. Finding his luggage is missing when they arrive at the airport is bad enough, but there in its place on the baggage carousel is a huge, furry polar bear. The big label round his neck declares that this is Mr P and before they know where they are, Joe has signed for him and he’s accompanying them to their new home.

This is my favourite Mr P adventure so far! He remains his reassuring, adorable self, offering comfort and support whilst Joe needs it before leaving him with the strength to continue alone. There is plenty of fun and humour along the way, but Joe learns much about himself -and others.

Like its predecessors, this is a gentle story which encourages empathy and understanding. Mr P’s silent actions affirm Joe’s emotions and reassure his doubts, yet also make him reconsider and question the way he is behaving. The story lends itself beautifully to discussions about the importance of giving things a go and not judging others quickly, of accepting change and staying true to yourself.

Although Joe is in a wheelchair, this is not a book about disability. Joe is a fully rounded character who just happens to be in a wheelchair. Ellie, one of the friends he left behind, is a great character- full of enthusiasm, good advice and action, supporting Joe from afar. Joe’s new friends living in the unnamed country Joe moves to (my money is on Canada!)- are also an interesting bunch!

Daniel Rieley’s wonderful illustrations are peppered throughout the text, adding to the humour of the story. Whether creating a snow bear, playing the ukulele or watching an ice hockey match, Mr P’s gentle, expressive face is a joy to see. Mr P’s Snow Storm Survival Guide at the end of the book offers good advice- and humour- for what to do should you find yourself caught in a blizzard!

Me and Mr P: Joe’s New World is a delightful, heartwarming tale of friendship, family and adventure. With Mr P leaving in search of a new child to comfort at the end of the story, there will hopefully be many more stories about this adorable bear in the future.

Me and Mr P: Joe’s New World Maria Farrer, illustrated by Daniel Rieley

OUP ISBN: 978-0192766533

You can read our review of Me and Mr P which was shortlisted for our Read Aloud Category in 2017 here and Me and Mr P: Ruby’s Star here.

Cloud Boy

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Written as a diary by Angie Moon, ‘Cloud Boy’ follows her life with her ‘almost twin’, Harry Christmas, who lives next door. Partners in everything from sweet eating to cloud watching, they have a wonderful tree house- Artcloud- built for their birthdays which spans both gardens. Life is great until Harry’s mysterious headaches and fatigue turn out to be far more serious than anyone could have imagined and their friendship is tested to the limit.

Interwoven into this story of friendship are the experiences of Angie’s great-grandmother who was a prisoner in Changi prison, told as a series of letters she wrote to her kitten whilst interred. Both stories are pieced together as two quilts are made- one years ago in prison and the other now. Beautifully written, the story captures the fear and pain of both girls as they struggle to come to terms with very different, but both very traumatic events in their lives.

Marcia Williams has captured Angie’s feelings brilliantly as she experiences a whole range of complex, fluctuating emotions. The diary style allows her to express her bursts of anger, her indignant voice ringing clear as she freely pours out her feelings. Deeply moving, the conclusion is heartbreaking and yet full of love.

Grandma’s story is also an incredibly moving one, particularly as it is based on the real life experiences of a survivor of Changi prison who was involved in the making of the quilt. Marcia Williams has stuck on an ingenious way of sharing the little known history behind this and how it was made. It is a fascinating, if at times, painful read with a note at the back to further explain the history behind the quilt- a symbol of love, resilience and ingenuity.

I can’t express how much I loved this book and am completely failing to do it justice here. Although I sobbed my way through sections of it, there are also moments of humour. The text is a relatively easy read, but the content is not. Marcia Williams employs great skill in dealing with painful, difficult subject matter and showing that not all stories have a happy ending. A fascinating, moving book about the importance of love, friendship and stories.

Cloud Boy Marcia Williams

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406381214

Jasper Space Dog

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Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, ‘Jasper Space Dog’ is the first in a new series from Hilary Robinson and is set to be a huge success.

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The story is told through a series of letters between eight-year-old Charlie Tanner and Dr Isabelle Star, a rocket scientist at Explore Space UK. Charlie’s dog, Jasper, is very keen to find out as much as possible about space and space travel as he is thinking about becoming a space dog. As the letters go back and forth, not only do we learn more about Charles, Jasper and their parrot, Parrot, we learn so much about space and astronauts.

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Told with great humour and charm, the story is also an excellent source of information about the lunar landings. Many fascinating details are included in the book like why Buzz Aldrin was called Buzz, how food was specially prepared for the astronauts and how various things were named. The book is perfect for using in class to support learning about space and could be used as a stimulus for writing in various forms.

Full of lovely illustrations, ‘Jasper Space Dog' is a very accessible, enjoyable read. It is great to know that the very engaging characters of Charlie and Jasper are going to be appearing in more adventures soon.

Jasper Space Dog Hilary Robinson, illustrated Lewis James

Strauss House ISBN: 978- 1999338909

Published 8th April 2019