NEW TITLES

There are some wonderful books publishing this month that cover a range of ages, from those emerging as teenagers to young adults, and covering a range of issues from friends and family to action packed adventure.

The House on Hummingbird Island
Sam Angus

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447263036

'The air was soft and still as if once a spell was cast over the house that had forever enchanted it and left it there in shimmering dream-like beauty', this is how Idie rediscovers the house on Hummingbird Island after her twelve year absence. Sent to England to live with her grandfather, the spirited and utterly loveable Idie returns to the West Indies plantation home of her inheritance where she finds a menagerie of local wildlife, tales of ghosts and untold secrets about her mother and the past. Whilst Idie attempts to put together the puzzle of her family's history, she earns the respect of all around her and the friendship of Austin. Surrounding themselves with the animals of the island they build a haven that the dark secrets of the past greedily attempts to destroy. Idie's story spans several years and inevitably the effects of the first world war reach her tiny home. She watches as the men of the island slowly leave to serve and fight along side British comrades with the hope of earning for themselves respect and racial equality. Idie watches helplessly as she witnesses the opposite, discrimination of the worst kind, which effects the people she has grown to love. At the end of the war Idie is faced with a choice - does she return as mistress to her childhood home, or resolutely continue to forge a life in her Caribbean home? At the conclusion of the story, it is her unprejudiced care and consideration for others that proves to be the key that finally unlocks the story of her past and brings about a well earned resolution. Sam Angus's characters jump off of the page, either loveable or loathsome, making this book a throughly enjoyable read. The plot has great pace and the inclusion of letters to and from the characters makes for a well rounded addition to the story. A wonderfully written, poignant tale, so eloquently told about how the past can be healed through the sheer grit of a determined young spirit. Readers will adore Idie and the creative unfolding of this beautiful story. Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian

The House on Hummingbird Island
Stormwalker
Mike Revell

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781784290696

Twelve year old Owen and his Dad are coming to terms with life a year after the death of Owen's mother. Or rather, they are not - her ashes remain in an urn on the mantelpiece; Owen's Dad, a published author, has not written a word since she died; home life is a disorganised jumble of takeaways and missed parents' evenings. Owen aches to bring back the Dad he knew and, having accidentally stumbled across a leaflet about 'Artistic Healing', suggests that his Dad should go to the meetings. Reluctantly, Dad agrees and comes back fired up to begin writing again and this is when life becomes very strange indeed for Owen. In the middle of the night, Owen wakes to discover he is in another world, far in the future, and his life, and those of his friends, are in danger from the Darkness. Is there a link between the book his Dad is writing and the strange things that are happening to Owen? This is really a book of two stories, deftly combined. One, the serious, realistic one, deals with grief and family relationships following the premature loss of a loved one. The second, the imaginative fantasy set in the future, is an exciting adventure story of danger and betrayal versus loyalty and courage. Both elements are brought together by Owen's realisation that he is a character in his father's book and by his efforts to keep his Dad motivated to finish the story. Competent, assured young readers will identify with Owen, the schoolboy interested in football and being with his friends. They will enjoy the excitement of his adventures in the other world created by his father. They will get an insight into grief, loss and depression but also into hope, the power of love and the strength of family ties. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Stormwalker
The Moonlight Dreamers
Siobhan Curham

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406365825

'On the night it began, a full moon hung over Brick Lane.' Amber is an original. She has different ideas, different inspirations and a different image from those around her. Bullied at school and inspired by Oscar Wilde, she decides to create 'The Moonlight Dreamers'- a secret society for like minded girls. And so Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose join together to follow their dream of being different and yet belonging somewhere. This is a truly inspirational story about friendship, life and finding your place in the world. Whatever their role, each character in this book is so well developed that you are completely drawn into the story, finding yourself cheering the girls on each step of the way. The complexities of family relationships are explored sensitively and with understanding. The girls contend with a range of problems -some minor, some more significant - but each is taken seriously through the course of the novel. It is so refreshing to find a novel modelling possibilities to young girls - follow your dreams, find friends, make things happen - and one showing real friendship between very different personalities. I loved reading this book and would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone! Beauty revels in its imperfections. 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

The Moonlight Dreamers
Booked
Kwame Alexander

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783444656

Told in poetic form, Booked is about Nick, a keen footballer, who has to deal with bullying, family issues and impressing the girl of his dreams. Supported by his best friend and team rival, Coby and the rapping school librarian, Nick works through his problems. Incredibly readable, Booked is written in achievable poems, offering a very satisfying, well paced story for the most reluctant reader. The author manages to pack in information about words, even using footnotes - I have a touch of 'verbomania' myself! - whilst conveying all the action of a football match on the next page. Perfect for anyone who is looking for something a bit different with strong characters, Booked is an appealing read for reluctant and enthusiastic readers alike. 320 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Booked
Nightwanderers
C. J. Flood

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9780857078056

This book is full of teen drama and angst. Rosie and Titania love to secretly wander through their costal town at night, setting the world to rights. Their personalities are very different but somehow they complement each other, Rosie being the calming influence while Titania gives her the confidence to do things she wouldn't otherwise dare. Their friendship quickly unravels when Ti gets caught having gone a step too far on one of their night wanders. Rosie is adrift without Ti. The struggle to fit in and survive at school and the battle to rebuild her friendship with Ti is authentically written. This book really appealed to girls in years 9 & 10 although some found the ending a little too neatly sewn up. 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, librarian.

Nightwanderers
New Guard: Book 17
Robert Muchamore

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444914122

With its 17th book, the CHERUB series about child spies who can slip beneath the radar and so solve crimes that adults cannot, is coming to a close. The books have got hundreds of otherwise reluctant readers, especially boys, reading through the pacey stories, realistic backdrops and that wonderful fantasy element of teenage spies. New Guard, too, offers bags of adventure in a plot that deftly takes us from a children's care home in the UK to the oil fields of ISIS-controlled Syria; it is very much a book of our time. However, there is also a more nostalgic element in this adventure as we hook up again with the one-time CHERUB lead James Adams, as well as Bruce and Lauren. We revisit the old CHERUB HQ - just before it gets blown up - and the 'old guard' is set up against some younger recruits during training for their latest assignment at their old holiday camp. It's a chance to mull over the previous CHERUB adventures that many young people have grown up with and, as we find out what they all go on to do, an opportunity for the reader to say goodbye to some of those agents. Existing fans will love it and new readers will, one hopes, be tempted to seek out some of the previous books in the series; as such, it is a fitting ending for the series. 320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Laura Mann.

New Guard: Book 17
Young Bond: Heads You Die
Steve Cole

Red Fox

ISBN 9781782952411

From the first page, you are whisked along on a super charged adventure in Cuba, from the streets of Havana to a secret island in the Caribbean. Young James Bond and his pint-sized pal, Hugo, spend their first day in Cuba pursuing a pickpocket and helping a young girl from her would be kidnappers, you just know that life with James is never boring or straight forward. A field trip from hell in Los Angeles is mentioned, with a British Agent assisting their escape, Hugo and James are supposed to be relaxing in Cuba with a family friend for a few days, before returning to England with Aunt Charmain. Getting almost knocked out by 'El Puno', The Fist, leaves James with an egg-shaped lump on his head and a feeling that there is more to Dr Hardiman's life in Cuba than botany. Danger has no rules and if you're James Bond it turns up around every corner. El Scolapendra, Solares, and his mysterious veiled lady friend, La Velada are involved in a very special project which Dr Hardiman wants no part of, but he is kidnapped and forced to assist them. James and Hugo are left alone in a strange city where the Police seem reluctant to help. They join forces with Scolapendra's runaway daughter, Jagua, and her street urchin friend, Maritsa to rescue Dr Hardiman. They find themselves breaking into an apartment, stealing a car, diving for shipwrecks and flying to a Caribbean island before being infected with a deadly poison. Then they have the small job of stopping the release of the poison in the UK and hope that Dr Hardiman has managed to manufacture an antidote to save their lives. Steve Cole's writing is incredible, fast paced and heart stopping action. With fates decided on the flip of a coin this is a must read for any older readers, including adults! 320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Kerra Dagley, school librarian.

Young Bond: Heads You Die
Orbiting Jupiter
Gary D. Schmidt

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783443949

Beautiful, sad, haunting. Joseph has been dealt a bad hand. A series of events leads him from an abusive father to a secure unit. He has suffered a world of hurt and arrives at the Hurd's organic farm truly broken. Joseph's new foster family, the Hurds, and several of his teachers see more than the troubled teen father they are presented with; they see a boy with college potential, a good boy struggling to deal with a bad past. Above all, a boy with a burning, restless desire to find his daughter. But will others let him move on from his past? The story is told by Jack, Joseph's new foster brother; the narrative is simple, spare almost. But those simple words really are powerful, a tribute to Schmidt's craft. It's best to go into this book blind so I'll not tell you any more of the story but it is beautifully written; friendship and family are entwined with trust and love, acceptance and determination. It's an emotional ride but one you'll still be thinking of long after you've closed the book. 192 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

Orbiting Jupiter
Not If I See You First
Eric Lindstrom

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008146313

Parker Grant is blind, and coping with the recent death of her father. She is also a talented runner, and a pretty acerbic character, not tolerating any nonsense from those around her. Her Rules go from 1-11 plus infinity, and set out very clearly how the people in her life should treat her as a blind person. The character of 16 year old Parker is what made the book work for me, she is not immediately likeable, but we get right inside her, and see the vulnerability she will not admit, as well as the fierce independence. The first person present tense narrative adds to this. The practicalities of coping in life without sight seem to be well researched, and are there without being laboured. The book is particularly good on female friendships, with Sarah, the one constant friend, as well as others who have drifted away from Parker, as well as Molly, the pupil selected to support her at school, who quickly becomes a new friend. They are fiercely supportive when needed, and they come to realise how important this solidarity is to each other. I was less sure about the romantic element, with Parker getting a new boyfriend, Jason, but obviously really hankering after Scott, the boy who she believes betrayed her when she was 13. This will appeal to some readers, but at times I felt it became a bit repetitive. One element that worked well was the descriptions of running. Parker runs on her own each morning, quite a challenge for a blind girl, and this gives her a feeling of freedom and release. She eventually joins the running team at school, to run with a sighted partner, but her recklessness comes to the fore when she runs on the track with only her friend guiding her by mobile phone instructions. Her feelings of freedom and exhilaration are well portrayed. A YA friendship and romance novel, with a feisty female lead, and something to say about bereavement and disability. 416 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Carol Williams, school librarian.

Not If I See You First
Passenger
Alexandra Bracken

Quercus Children's Books

ISBN 9781786540003

Passenger features a quest across the globe and through time to recover the last astrolabe which will enable the finder to navigate the passages through time and help them secure the past and future they choose. This would give such power to whoever wields it that many different factions are ruthless in their pursuit of it and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it first. Etta knows nothing of the time-travelling family she comes from and so is shocked and amazed to be kidnapped through time and whisked from present day New York into a sea battle aboard a sailing ship of 1776. Slowly she comes to trust and love Nicholas, the ex-slave turned pirate who captures her ship and then saves her from drowning. Etta is blackmailed by the Ironwood family into solving a series of clues left by her mother which will lead to the astrolabe, each clue leading to a different place and time. She is accompanied on this journey by Nicholas, who has his own reasons for wanting to control the astrolabe. Knowing who to trust and what the consequences of actions will be over the course of time are just two of the hazards thrown into Etta's path. I particularly enjoyed how the issues of one era were dealt with by people from another - for example a 21st century girl having to conform to the repression of women in the 18th century. I am looking forward to the sequel, Wayfarer, to see how the characters are developed and the various stands play out. This is a swashbuckling blockbuster; a high paced action adventure peppered with time travel, romance, family intrigue and many lucky escapes. It was a real page-turner which should do well in the YA/adult crossover market. 496 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick

Passenger
You Know Me Well
David Levithan

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509823932

David Levithan continues in his series of collaborations with other authors and it seems to be working well. Set in San Francisco and its suburbs this is a story of coming out and moving on. Mark is out at school and unusually for the stereotypes is the sporting hero. His best friend Ryan is the more usual character, the paper editor, into art and taking chances but is in the closet. Mark is in love with Ryan; Ryan is not in love with Mark. On a secret trip to the Castro area of San Francisco Mark unexpectedly comes across a female classmate, Kate; she is also gay. Mark asks her that evening if she will be his friend and she agrees. She has problems of her own, her best friend has spent ages trying to fix her up with a cousin who is so sophisticated and lives in Europe and is now coming back to California. Kate is sort of in love but too scared to meet Violet. Oh, and a world famous photographer is randomly thrown into the mix and makes Mark and Kate famous overnight. This is a thoughtful book that is truly about friendship and growing up, there is a point when you get to the end of your school career when you realise that everything is going to change. Friendships and romances are tested often to breaking point. You Know Me Well is an enjoyable read; it does not break new ground but will speak to teenagers gay and straight. The double voiced narrative is interesting and melds well. What is refreshing about this new wave of gay teen fiction is that being gay is hardly ever the issue; the characters are teenagers who happen to be gay going through the same difficulties as there rest of their class, apart from instant fame of course. 256 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Caroline Downie, librarian.

You Know Me Well
The Bone Sparrow: shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017
Zana Fraillon

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510101548

This is quite simply a heart-rending, beautiful story. From the first line I knew that I would be utterly moved by the words written so passionately, weaving a narrative that is at times difficult to read. The story is not gratuitous, but highlights the innocence of a young boy surrounded by such ugliness. At the heart of the story is Subhi, born in the detention centre. Raised by his mother and sister, Subhi is an extraorindary voice telling us the realities of the world as he knows it. The Family tent where he lives with forty-two others; little or no water; the rancid food; no sanitation; the 'Jackets' who 'look after' them. The camp is little more than a prison, hidden from the outside world, with concentration-camp like conditions and the 'Jackets' little more than prison guards, with a penchant for mistreating their charges. Subhi's best friend is Eli, a young man determined to survive and help others do the same. Subhi's saving grace is his unique and wonderful imagination that every night conjures up the Night Sea from his mother's stories, washing treasures on to its shore and giving him hope. Subhi shares his imagination with others, hungry for stories, hungry for memories to build a picture of the world outside the fences. There are so many moments in this book that are quite beautiful; every small sign of hope that Subhi can find, he holds on to, keeping his dreams alive. One day, his dreams bring him Jimmie, a local girl with grief of her own, who starts to show him what the Outside is really like, through her own stories and pictures. From a poverty-stricken background, Jimmie's world suddenly seems rich compared to Subhi's . The Bone Sparrow necklace entwines their stories and determines the outcome of their friendship. How much bravery can they find within themselves, to save each other from their respective fates? 'Hope' takes on new meaning and the story questions how the human spirit can stay hopeful in the darkest of times, when it seems no one cares and no one can 'see' you? The story is woven by an author who is clearly passionately wanting to address an issue that is now so prevalent in our world; surely it cannot be ignored. This is a book that will make change happen. 232 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly, library consultant.

The Bone Sparrow: shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017
Nothing Tastes As Good
Claire Hennessy

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471405747

A story about a 'ghost' of a girl, Annabel, who is assigned to help an old classmate, struggling with the stresses and strains of teenage life. Annabel doesn't want to help anyone, least of all a fat girl. But perhaps that isn't the real reason for her anger? Perhaps Annabel knows taking the assignment on will make her confront her own demons (not that she believes in that stuff; heaven or hell included). Her 'assignment' is Julia, a kind, caring girl coming to the end of her college education. With parents working shifts on the police force, a baby sister to take care of and high grades to maintain, Julia is busy. She has friends and enjoys working on the school newspaper, with a dream of one day becoming a 'real' journalist. So it seems ideal when the position of Editor on the school newspaper is offered to her and she takes on the role, despite any misgivings; including working closely with Gavin, someone who she has grown increasingly fond of. The stress of her workload begins to show and a darker secret creeps out of the shadows and allows Annabel to make her voice heard. Why does Julia need to prove herself so much? What drives her to find comfort in food? And will Annabel succeed in controlling Julia, sending her on the path to self-destruct before anyone can help? This is a brilliant read about many things; life as a teenager; relationships, school politics, journalism, and anorexia. The fantastic writing gives voice to Annabel's self-destructive ideas which are then passed on to the unsuspecting Julia, who is desperately looking for some way of controlling her spiralling lack of confidence and self-esteem. I was totally hooked and read this in one sitting. 327 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly, school librarian.

Nothing Tastes As Good
The Nest
Kenneth Oppel

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200865

This is a very unusual, disturbing, highly original, sensitive, and thought-provoking novel. The subject matter may be too disturbing for some, as it focusses on a deeply ill newborn baby and the effect the stress and worry has on a family, but I think this is a book that would make a great class read and comparisons to David Almond's Skellig are obvious, well deserved, and intriguing. Steve has a new baby brother who is very ill, he is always going to the hospital, needs a big operation, may die, and even if he survives he will never be properly well, never be 'normal' or 'perfect'. This desire for normalcy and perfection is the nub of the story. Steve has a history that is never clearly explained and is for the reader to decide the extent of. He describes his obsessive need to wash his hands, his nightly routine of going through two lists and constantly worrying about missing something, and he views himself as crazy and'low-functioning'. He is convinced that this is how his parents see him, and that his dad in particular is disappointed in him. However, it is easy to conclude from how Steve relays his parents' reactions to the reader that they do not actually feel or think like this. Because of this, his reliability as a narrator is questioned. This makes Steve a very interesting narrator because we do not know the extent of his unreliability - are some of the events of the story in his head; imagined, dreamt, or even part of a psychosis or are they actually happening? This unnerving dynamic is, to me, what makes this such a creepy story, because it makes you question which is worse and that is hard to decide. Suspense slowly builds as different seemingly odd random events begin to tie together: Steve's little sister's game of speaking to Mr Nobody on her toy phone, a sinister travelling salesman, the mysterious happenings in the attic, and the growing problem of unusual wasps making their nest at the side of the family's house. Steve becomes increasingly concerned about each thing as the situation with the baby escalates and his parents begin to seem more fragile. However, it is the wasps that particularly trouble him as they begin to inhabit his dreams. His already existing fear of them worsens after he is stung and has an allergic reaction. He later discovers that they are not a typical breed - in fact, they have never been seen before and their anatomy is decidedly odd. Thus, the breakdown between dreams and reality is heightened for Steve and in turn the reader. Steve initially thinks he is just dreaming and it does not really mean anything when he agrees to the Wasp Queen's offer to solve all of the baby's problems, to make him perfect, but as she becomes more demanding and threatening, he worryingly questions the true nature of her offer. It is now that Steve begins to become stronger, trying to deal with the nest himself, but also more comfortable and accepting of people's flaws - his own, the baby's, his parents. He realises that - maybe - all those other people were broken too in their own ways. Maybe we all spent too much time pretending we weren't. He now doubts whether perfection is actually perfect itself and what is normal anyway. Does he want a little brother who is so perfect that he doesn't know how, or care about, what it is like not to be perfect or is it better to have a brother who is deeply ill but is kind and a good person? By asking these questions this novel reaches such important philosophical depths that it would be a fascinating novel for teenagers and adults to explore alongside debates about disability and medical ethics. There is so much to this novel to discuss that I have not even mentioned the religious symbolism, the language, or the simple but clever black and white illustrations by Jon Klassen, which enhance the creepiness and claustrophobia of the story by using shadows, faceless adults, and distorting perspectives. I also love how the number of wasps that are at the start of each chapter increase as we get deeper into the book, until the penultimate chapter where there is a buzzing throng of them. This is because it is in this chapter where events come to a head and in what is a breathtaking, intense, and vivid denouement, Steve's true heroic nature emerges. The Nest has such a sinister quality especially due to the sense of the extraordinary in the ordinary that Oppel creates so vividly. It is a lyrical, haunting, confusing, complicated, poignant coming-of-age novel that brilliantly explores anxiety and the importance of perfection, which coincidentally parallels with another new teenage publication this month, Cecelia Ahern's Flawed . It is full of suspense, has an unusual and intriguing villain in the Wasp Queen, and is truly memorable. 256 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian.

The Nest