Bookshelf Quality Fiction

We Won an Island

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Things have not been easy for Luna and her family recently. Since Granny died, Dad has stopped going to work and the landlord is throwing them out of their flat so when her brother, Fabien, spots a newspaper article about a millionaire giving away an island off the coast of Scotland, Luna knows this is the answer to their problems. However, when they win the island, things don’t go quite according to plan…

This is a wonderful, feel good story about family, friendship and community. Luna and her siblings are a delightful bunch, willing to work together, but each quirky and individual. Luna is wonderfully optimistic, determined to make things work and end up with her donkey sanctuary. Fascinated by planes and flying, Margot, her older sister, is more practical whilst Fabien is obsessed with sheep, goats and knitting. Together, they make quite a team!

The children tackle every issue the island throws at them with good grace and enthusiasm, adding plenty of humour throughout the book. There is a real ‘feel good’ factor to the story as the community pulls together and everything turns out well in the end.

Reminiscent of ‘My Family and Other Animals’, ‘We Won an Island’ is a joyful, uplifting story, perfect for a class read or to enjoy independently!

We Won an Island Charlotte Lo

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788000443

Published 2nd May 2019

The Way Past Winter

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In the forest of Eldbjørn , trapped in a never ending winter, Mila lives with her brother and two sisters. Their mother is dead and their father has disappeared. When a group of strangers arrive and her brother, Oskar, vanishes, Mila is convinced that he has been taken ans so sets off on a perilous journey to save him. Accompanied by her younger sister and the mysterious mage, Rune, she must find the way past winter to uncover the truth.

Beautifully written in lyrical, flowing prose, ‘The Way Past Winter’ is a magical story of family love, friendship and adventure. Stunning imagery captures the scene on each page as they travel through the frozen landscape in pursuit of their brother. Rich in elements of folklore, at times it is reminiscent of the tales of the Brothers Grimm.

The sibling relationships are very convincing, with family tensions and rivalries portrayed and yet, ultimately family love and unity clearly driving the characters onwards. Seeing such strong female characters rescuing the male ones is extremely satisfying, reversing the more traditional ‘fairy tale’ roles.

A brilliantly immersive adventure story, ‘The Way Past Winter’ is my favourite book so far from this talented author. A fabulously rich, challenging read for all to enjoy!

The Way Past Winter Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Chicken House ISBN: 978-1911077930

You can read our review of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ here.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria

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Eleven year old Aya has just arrived in England with her mother and baby brother. Being asylum seekers, fleeing the war in Syria, Aya finds herself with her family at the community centre, waiting to see their caseworker. Whilst there, she finds herself drawn to the music of a dance class where the ballet teacher recognises her exceptional dance talent. The chance for a place at a prestigious ballet school offers Aya hope and happiness for the future, but first she and her family must fight to be allowed to remain in England and must continue to seek for her father, who was separated from the family during their flight from Syria.

Combining the present with flashbacks from the past, Aya’s story unfolds with great sensitivity and compassion. Her feelings of disorientation and anxiety are brilliantly portrayed and through her eyes, the reader can feel the impact that the thoughtless words and deeds of others can have. Small acts of kindness are also celebrated throughout the story, offering hope and acceptance. The reader learns of the very ‘normal’ life Aya had before war came to her country, before her world was torn apart, before she became an asylum seeker- how her life was similar in so many ways to that of others.

The story is not just that of Aya and her family. Her ballet teacher, Miss Helena, was also a refugee, reminding the reader that victims of war and persecution have been seeking safety for generations. Her story is also painful to hear, yet told with great empathy. That such stories should be told is essential and this book is a very powerful, moving way of doing just that.

Full of ballet language and technical detail, this is a book which can still be enjoyed by everyone, not just ballet fans. The dance scenes are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the story, adding to its colour and interest.

‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria’ is a beautiful story, in turns heart breaking and heart warming. Highly recommended, it is a must read for everyone.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria Catherine Bruton

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004503

Published 2nd May 2019