Tag: Reading For Pleasure

Year 3 Challenge Miss Cleveland: Crime Mysteries

What a theme from Year 3 – I love a mystery and when there’s a good crime or murder thrown in so much the better!

First up this week, I’ve chosen Cluedle – The Case of the Dumpleton Diamond by Hartigan Browne

Perfect For mystery fans, Cluedle – The Case of the Dumpleton Diamond is a funny, cosy crime puzzle book for code-cracking families and skilful young super sleuths. Team up with world famous private investigator Hartigan Browne and crack the curious case of the Dumpleton Diamond by solving 50 fun brain-busting puzzles. Set in the village of Dumpleton you need to don your detective cap and discover:

– Who pup-napped Dave the dog?
– What is important about The Flying Goat?
– How the Dumpleton Diamond went missing?
– Why a missing key can unlock this case?

Packed full of codes to crack, evidence to evaluate, clues to unravel and maps to navigate, Cluedle – The Case of the Dumpleton Diamond is puzzling fun for the whole family. And even better, there are two more books ready to pre-order. Can you work out Cluedunnit?

Next, I’ve chosen the first in a sleuthing series – Kate On The Case by Hannah Peck. Discover the first brilliant adventure of reporter-in-training Kate and her mouse Rupert, in this stunning book, filled with colourful illustrations.


Young reporter-in-training Kate and her mouse-accomplice Rupert are on board a train to visit Kate’s mum in the Arctic. But as soon as the train departs, mysterious things start happening.

A packet of ginger nuts goes missing . . .
A collection of gymnastics trophies are stolen . . .
And some ancient scrolls disappear . . .

Fellow passenger Madame Maude seems the most likely culprit, until a surprising – and delicious – twist turns the whole investigation on its head!

Finally, I’ve chosen a book that isn’t actually in the shops until August, but it’s too good not to put in with this theme. The Beanstalk Murder by P.G. Bell is a magical murder mystery of mammoth proportions! With its charming characters, inventive plot, and a setting that bursts with magic, The Beanstalk Murder is a tale that is both enchanting and exhilarating.

Trainee meadow witch Anwen is having a bad day – which gets much worse when a dead giant falls from the sky and destroys her village. But when she examines the body she discovers something interesting. This giant was murdered, which means a killer is on the loose!

Tasked with sending a message to the giant kingdom via beanstalk, Anwen and her nemesis, trainee sorceress Cerys, accidentally find themselves whipped up into the sky and deposited in the giants’ royal palace – where the king is missing. Using their perfect spy-size and witchy skills, the girls must track down his killer. But how can you investigate a murder mystery when you risk being stepped on by your suspects?

Happy reading!

Year Two Challenge Miss Cleveland: Africa

This week, Year Two have picked Africa as their Friday Library Theme, with a focus on Kenya as it’s their geography topic.

First off, I’ve chosen, Africa, Amazing Africa: Country By Country by Atinuke, illustrated by Mounni Feddag which is a first, personal introduction to the Africa continent for young children.

With double-pages to introduce the different regions of Africa (South, East, West, Central and North), each country is then represented on one page with a colourful half-page illustration from artist Mouni Feddag, a paragraph of descriptive text and then one to three facts, geared towards readers aged four and up; imagined as a diving-off point, to give a sense of the variety of the continent and inspire young readers to find out more about the different countries of Africa.

Next, I’ve chosen the inspirational story of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions Of Trees by Franck Prevot. Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. This is the story of what she did, accompanied by stunning artwork.

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans…

Finally, I’ve chosen Bringing The Rain To Kapati Plain by Aardema, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, which is a delightful rhyming story full of bright and vivid illustrations.

In this traditional tale, based upon the folk traditions of the Nandi people of Kenya, a young herd boy Ki-pat must find a way to end the dreadful drought that has come to the beautiful Kapiti Plain and save the animals that live there. The cumulative rhyme is a joy to read aloud and a wonderful way to engage young children.

Happy reading!

Year One Challenge Miss Cleveland: Cities

Tomorrow night, we will be taken on a journey of European cities as the scores are given from the judging panels for the Eurovision Song Contest, so I’m delighted that this week, Year one have chosen stories on the theme of “Cities”. It’s been a really tough job narrowing down the books.

My first choice is Small In The City by Sydney Smith, who is one of my favourite picture book creators.

Being small can be overwhelming in a city. People don’t see you. The loud sounds of the sirens and cyclists can be scary. And the streets are so busy it can make your brain feel like there’s too much stuff in it. But if you know where to find good hiding places, warm dryer vents that blow out hot steam that smells like summer, music to listen to or friends to say hi to, there can be comfort in the city, too.

We follow our little protagonist, who knows all about what its like to be small in the city, as he gives his best advice for surviving there. As we turn the pages, Sydney Smith’s masterful storytelling allows us to glimpse exactly who this advice is for, leading us to a powerful, heart-rending realization…

The Travelling School Mysteries by Jo Clarke are a fantastic series of books where each new term is in a new city, starting with Libby And The Parisian Puzzle, then Edinburgh and in the third book, New York in Libby And The Manhattan Mystery.

In the firs book of the series, mystery-lover Libby is excited but nervous when she’s sent to live with her aunt while her mother is working abroad. Aunt Agatha is the headmistress of an extraordinary travelling school that moves from country to country… Libby joins the school in Paris, where she is just starting to find her feet when Agatha is arrested, accused of a daring jewel robbery! Can Libby and her new best friend Connie find the real thief and save her aunt?

Every trip out immerses you further into the Parisian setting,  brought beautifully to life by Jo’s writing, and Libby’s keen eye for detail. Becka Moor’s illustrations, scattered liberally throughout, capture the joyful nature of the story, and it’s characters and setting perfectly. There is something truly wonderful about a school that changes destination for each term, and you’ll be left craving hot chocolate and macarons

Finally, for our older children, I’ve chosen a story that brings Honk Kong to life; The Black Dragon by Julian Sedgewick.

Danny Woo’s life was turned upside down the night of the fire that took his parents life. Since then, he’s been frozen, trying to adjust to life at Ballstone boarding school. When an explosion rips through the corridors, Aunty Laura suggests Danny goes with her to Hong Kong – the place where his mother was born – and spend some time with Major Zamora, his trusted friend from The Mysterium.

No sooner do they walk through arrivals that Danny realises this might not be as straightforward a trip as he’s been led to believe. First, there’s the man in the white suit; is he following them? Then, while at dinner, armed men kidnap his Aunty. For the first time in over a year, Danny feels himself begin to unfreeze, and tries to unlock the memories of that last fateful week at the circus with his parents. Could the events unfolding around him have any links to that past?

Packed with action and intrigue, Julian Sedgwick has created an action packed thriller that moves at breakneck speed to the mind blowing conclusion. He conjures up complex characters and brings Hong Kong vividly to life, while mixing deadly gangs, magic and mystery with a slight of hand that Danny’s Dad would be proud of. A hypnotising start to a gripping series.

Happy reading – enjoy your travels this week!

 

 

Reception Class Challenge Miss Cleveland: Pets

Reception had a big debate about which theme to choose, ranging from Barbie to bodies, but settled on Pets!

For our youngest children, I’ve chosen Books Make Good Pets by John Agard and Momoko Abo

Books make good pets and don’t need going to the vet.
You don’t have to keep them on a lead or throw them a stick.
They’ll wag their words whenever you flick their dog-eared pages.
Even howl an ancient tale for the inward-listening ear.

Did you know that a book can take you anywhere? You only need to turn the pages of a story, and in a moment, you and your book could be crossing the waves in a pirate ship… or diving with mermaids… or even snoozing with a dragon.

Books really DO make good pets! Why don’t you peep inside this one, and take your mind on an adventure?

This delightful original picture book poem is the perfect gift for anyone who delights in the magic of a good book. Agard’s evocative, lyrical style is perfectly complemented with illustrations by Momoko Abe, whose colourful visuals add character, transporting the reader into an enchanting world of imagination.

I’m sneaking in a second picture book as it’s too good not be one of the recommendations on this theme. Seahorses Are Sold Out by Katja Gehrmann and Constanze Spengler is a hilariously wild picture book featuring a single-parent family.

Mika’s father works from home and he’s very busy! He can never find time for the promised swimming trip. So Dad allows Mika to choose a pet from the store while he finishes the project—something quiet like a mouse. And so begins a wonderfully turbulent story in which Mika brings home one animal after another… The mouse gets lost so they need a dog to find it. The dog is followed by a seal, the seal a penguin. One pet for Mika leads to another and another. How many animals can come to stay before a harassed father notices?

For newly confident readers, Luma And The Pet Dragon by Leah Mohammed contains two gorgeously warm and funny stories about a little girl whose wish comes true.

When Luma Dewan wakes up on the morning of her seventh birthday, she knows that today will be special. But she has no idea just how wonderful and extraordinary it will be. For today is the day she will meet Timir – a real talking dragon. Or at least when Luma is around that’s what he is. When anyone else is there, he becomes an ordinary grey puppy with a fluffy tail, who loves chasing squirrels and bouncing on trampolines.

It’s a big secret to keep – and Luma’s clever cousin Arjun is soon suspicious of this peculiar puppy, who doesn’t quite behave like any other dog. Luckily Luma’s grandmother – Nani – is there to help, and to Luma’s surprise, Nani might just know a little dragon magic of her own . . .

And finally, for our older children, I’ve chosen D-Day Dog by Tom Palmer, which is a beautifully told, heart-wrenching story of family, friendship and self-discovery, and a triumph of diversity, inclusivity and the power of knowledge to shape informed, balanced opinions.

Jack loves nothing more than playing video games based on war with his Dad, a member of the Army Reserves. That, and his dog, Finn. And now he’s learning all about the D-Day Landings at school before the Year 6 residential trip to Normandy. Life couldn’t be better.

Then Jack’s parents fall out when his Mum finds Dad’s deployment letter, and everything Jack thought about war is turned on it’s head when he researches a D-Day soldier and his dog, Emile Corteil and Glen.

Is he right to be proud of his Dad? Were soldiers brave or foolish? And what did John Maxwell Edmunds mean when he said, “When you go Home, tell them of us and say, For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”?

Happy reading!

 

Friday Library Recommendations: Mythology

I love finding out about myths and legends, so when I read a non-fiction book all about legendary places, I knew that would be a brilliant start for a Friday Library Recommendation theme.

That book is An Atlas Of Legendary Places by Volker Mehnert and Claudia Lieb. A passport to the world’s most intriguing destinations, this book is a bounty of information and gorgeous illustrations that will spark wonder and wanderlust curiosity in young readers.

Filled with the magic of myth, culture, natural beauty, and history, this introduction to eighteen of the world’s most fascinating places introduces young readers to the ineffable qualities that make these locations so special. Stunning double-page spreads offer a deep dive into each site, with fascinating invaluable information and exciting perspectives.

Readers will learn about the unique geology of Thingvellir National Park in Iceland and Namibia’s Brandberg Mountain; the legends behind Germany’s Lorelei rock and Greece’s Delphi; the diverse cultural histories of Timbuktu and Jerusalem; the architectural and natural splendor of Taishan in China and Palenque in Mexico; and even the galactic marvels of the Milky Way. Discovering these places’ unique histories, physical characteristics, and cultural lore will inspire readers to learn more about each place, and encourage their interest in travel, geography, history, and the unexpected.

Now we know all about legendary places, it’s time to meet some of the amazing characters that live in them.  For our younger readers, I’ve chosen a fabulous series by Tom Easton – Hotel Of The Gods, which starts with Beware The Hellhound, where mythical guests cause magical mayhem! A hilarious new series perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Solomons.

When Atlas’s parents get new jobs running a luxurious hotel he can’t believe his luck. It sounds almost too good to be true… It is!

The hotel has very unusual residents – ancient gods and goddesses, forgotten by humans who now worship TikTok celebrities. There’s a water dragon in the swimming pool, an Egyptian cat goddess demanding treats, a Viking god throwing his magical hammer around the garden, and an Aztec god who thinks Atlas is a human sacrifice! When Atlas ventures into the basement, where the Greek god Hades lives, he accidentally unleashes a closet-full of mythical monsters – including a three-headed Hellhound!

Can he get the monsters back into the basement before his parents lose their jobs?

And finally for this week, I’ve chosen the follow up series to the Coventry Inspiration Book Award winning series, Who Let The Gods Out? The Gods Squad are back with a new generation of children thoroughly unprepared to save the world from impending doom and daemons of chaos in Oh Maya Gods by Maz Evans.

The world’s worst-behaved immortals are at it again – introducing the brand-new Gods Squad taking them on! Meet Vesper, the bossy, football-mad daughter of Elliot Hooper, the original hero of Who Let the Gods Out?, and Aster, the super-bright son of Constellation, Virgo.

Together, they must recapture some villainous wrong’uns before the world ends next Wednesday. Off they head to the Maya underworld, where Kizin and his Lords and Ladies of Death are messing with astronomy, chocolate and human sacrifice …

With its irresistible blend of humour, heart, and mythology, Maz once again proves herself to be one of the funniest storytellers in children’s literature today. Book 2, Oh Mummy Mia! has just published too.

Happy reading!

 

 

Friday Library Recommendations: Rewilding

Monday 22nd April is Earth Day, which was set up in 1970 to demonstrate support for environmental protection, so this week, I have chosen books on the theme of Rewilding. This is the process of restoring an area of land to it’s natural state, including returning wild plants and animals to the area.

For our younger children, I have picked The Wall And The Wild by Christina Dendy and Katie Rewse.  At a time of accelerating climate change, this is an eye-opening story about gardening, rewilding and embracing biodiversity in all its forms.

In a plot of land at the edge of town, Ana grows only perfectly-sized plants and perfect-looking flowers, and throws all the irregular shoots and uneven seeds over the wall into the disorderly Wild. But as her garden gets tidier, neater and more constrained, the Wild begins to grow…

For older children, I’ve chosen the latest book in the fabulous Explodapedia series: Rewild: Can Nature Heal Our World by Ben Martynoga, illustrated by Moose Allain, which is a celebration of nature and the incredible ways it keeps us alive, and an exploration of how we can welcome the wild on a personal and epic scale.

River-nurturing wolves, tree-toppling beavers, climate warrior whales and even genetically-engineered woolly mammoths could all help us protect, revive and restore our planet to its full glory. Join Ben Martynoga and Moose Allain for an inspiring look at how we can rewild life so that nature – and humankind – flourishes for a long time to come.

And finally, I’ve chosen one of my favourite non-fiction books from last year – Ultrawild: An Audacious Plan To Rewild Every City on Earth by Steve Mushin. It’s not just the title that’s audacious – everything from the brilliantly bold ideas to the chatty, graphic novel style delivery of some, quite frankly, mind-blowing science stakes claim to that description make this an outstanding read. Whether it’s ideas from ancient sewerage systems or futuristic hi-tech pollinators and plants, there are no limits on the creative solutions Steve discusses to bring the wild back to all areas of our planet.

Jump into his brain as he designs habitat-printing robot birds and water-filtering sewer submarines, calculates how far compost cannons can blast seed bombs (over a kilometre), brainstorms biomaterials with scientists and engineers, studies ecosystems and develops a deadly serious plan to transform cities into jungles, rewilding them into carbon-sucking mega-habitats for all species, and as fast as possible.

Through marvelously designed and hilarious engineering ideas, Mushin shares his vision for super-high-tech urban rewilding, covering the science of climate change, futuristic materials and foods, bio reactors, soil, forest ecosystems, mechanical flight, solar thermal power and working out just how fast we could actually turn roads into jungles, absorb carbon and reverse climate change.

Happy reading!

 

Friday Library Recommendations: Nature

Welcome back after a lovely Easter break. It’s great to see signs of Spring everywhere, so this week, I’ve chosen books on the theme of Nature.

First, I’ve got a lovely poetry collection; Outside In: Nature Poems by Daniel Thompson and Julia Murray.

This inspiring collection of 50 poems will spark a love of nature, bring calm and happiness and let the outside in. Beautifully illustrated, it is filled with poems for children to read alone or enjoy with the whole family.

With poems about the seasons, senses, wildlife, weather and the joys of mud, it’s the perfect gift book for children to treasure.

Next, I’ve picked a fabulous Non-fiction book; Nature’s Fascinating Friendships by Kerry Hyndman and Mike Hills

Did you know pom pom crabs wear sea anemones as boxing gloves to fight off enemies? And greater honeybirds guide humans to hidden beehives? And bats use pitcher plants as sleeping bags?

From ravens and wolves to trees and fungi, learn how these unlikely alliances are formed and find out all the incredible, funny, weird and disgusting reasons why these partnerships work. Every page is beautifully illustrated and packed full of facts that should surprise and inspire us all to overcome our differences and work together more.

And finally, How To Be A Nature Explorer by Peter Wohlleben, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich is  the perfect companion for every child’s next outdoor adventure!

Whether you are in the forest, in your own backyard, or in the city, there are so many exciting ways to engage with nature—and forester Peter Wohlleben has the best ideas for doing so. With Be A Nature Explorer,  kids will learn how to press flowers, harvest algae, skip stones, observe spiders, and even how to build their own tiny sailboat in one of the 52 short, fun, and hands-on activities to help children explore and discover the outdoors, and it’s the perfect size to throw in a rucksack and refer to on adventures.

Happy reading!

 

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The Runners-Up

Last week, we announced the winners, which means there are some very worthy runners up that were class favourites that we haven’t looked at books to read after.

What’s The Story – How To Count To One by Casper Salmon, illustrated by Matt Hunt

A hilariously bossy picture book about counting that children will love to outsmart!

You know how to count, right? GREAT! There are LOADS of fun things to count in this book. Whales, baboons, rainbows, pyramids . . . There’s just rule. You must ONLY ever count to ONE. So don’t even about THINK bigger numbers. OK?!

Get ready to show off your skills in this fun new counting book! But all is not as it seems . . . is this book really only about counting to ‘ONE’? Because there are SO MANY fun things that you could count. But – wait – maybe there’s a way to outsmart the book . . . and count all the way up to 100!

If this was your favourite, do try One Fox by Kate Read

A stunning counting book and thrilling farmyard adventure from the brilliantly talented author and illustrator, Kate Read whose luscious artwork is a mixture of collage, printing and drawing, creating layers of beautiful texture and detail.

One famished fox with two sly eyes is on the prowl . . . three plump hens had better watch out!

The rich, close-up illustrations take the reader to the heart of the drama in this exciting story set in a moonlit farmyard. With something different to count in every picture, learning numbers from one to ten has never been so much fun, while the story will keep everyone gripped to the last, hugely satisfying page.

Telling Tales –  Wildsmith by Liz Flanagan, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton

When war threatens her beloved city, Rowan and her mother must flee to the Dark Forest, meeting Grandpa and his white wolf Arto for the first time. Though she misses her father, Rowan makes new friends – including a trio of powerful witches. When she rescues a baby dragon from poachers, she discovers the secret of her own identity: Rowan is a wildsmith! Fostering a whole clutch of dragons, the summer speeds by. But when danger threatens, Rowan and her grandpa must call on all their friends for help.

If this was your favourite book, look out for the next book in the series, Wildsmith: City Of Secrets. You can also try Do Not Mess With The Mermaids by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Sharon Davey

Wondermere is expecting a very important visitor: the mermaid queen of the Outer Ocean. That means frilly dresses and best behaviour – and absolutely NO RULE BREAKING. But when a purple dragon egg falls into the moat of Wondermere castle, Grace and her sister Princess Portia find themselves babysitting a big secret. One teeny tiny little dragon called Dennis couldn’t possibly disturb the royal visit, could he?

A cheeky, charming and laugh-out-loud funny read

Hooked On Books – Deadlock by Simon Fox 

An explosive new adventure from the author of the unputdownable Running Out of Time. Simon Fox is a rising star in a new generation of thriller writers.

Archie Blake thought his policeman father teaching him how to pick locks and open safes was just a bit of fun. But when a diamond necklace is stolen and his dad is arrested, Archie realises the only way to prove Dad’s innocence is to go on the run and use everything he’s learned to uncover the truth.

But Archie soon finds himself deeply tangled in the criminal underworld, where it’s hard to know who to trust and even harder to see what’s right or wrong. Will Archie be able to find a way out before it’s too late?

If this was your favourite book, try S.T.E.A.L.T.H. Access Denied by Jason Rohan.

They’re in a race to save his dad … and the world.

When his dad disappears, Arun Lal is amazed to discover that he was secretly working on a classified project and has been kidnapped by people intent on stealing it.

Along with his geeky best friend Sam and tough-talking Donna, Arun is plunged into a race to rescue his father and find his creation before the thieves can turn it into a destructive global weapon…

Full of thrilling high-octane car chases and more, this is the first in an explosive new action-adventure middle grade series. 

Happy reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards – The Winners!

What a fantastic selection of book in each category this year – I have loved reading and talking about the books with all of the children in school and taking votes every week since January. We had an amazing final three in each category, but the votes have all been counted and verified and we now have this year’s winners…

What’s The Story –  The Eyebrows Of Doom by Steve Smallman and Miguel Ordonez

As featured on CBeebies Bedtime Stories and read by Steve Carell, The Eyebrows of Doom is an outrageously funny and bonkers adventure story written by the rhyming genius, Steve Smallman, with bright, bold and brilliant artwork by award-winning illustrator, Miguel Ordóñez.

The Eyebrows of Doom are trying to take over the world! Join Dave and his friends as they try to stop them leaping from one unsuspecting animal to the next. And just when it looks as though the eyebrows’ antics have been thwarted . . . all is not as it seems!

This hilarious rhyming romp will have readers young and old laughing out loud.

If this was your favourite book, do try Inspector Penguin Investigates by Eoin McLaughlin and Ross Collins, an exciting, interactive detective story that will have readers hooked from the beginning.

Who could have broken into Baron von Buffetworth’s super-secure top-secret safe? And where have they taken his precious diamond?

There’s only one detective who can solve this mystery: Inspector Penguin! That is, if he can keep his mind off tuna long enough to find some clues…

Telling Tales – Lenny Lemon and The Invincible Rat by Ben Davis, illustrated by James Lancett 

Huge congratulations to Ben who wins his second Coventry Inspiration Book Award, but this time in a younger category, with a laugh out loud funny book that pupils and teachers can all relate to!

Lenny Lemmon is looking forward to Olden Days Day at school. It’s a chance to break the routine and try school as it was years ago. It explains the blackboard in the corner, his teacher’s bad temper and why his friend Sam looks like Oliver Twist. Lenny is pleased with his own contribution, too. It’s in a cardboard box at the back of the class at the moment because it’s not yet time to shine. Except it escapes and ends up in the bowl of sick, sorry, gruel, that Amelia Kelly has brought up, sorry, in.

Soon there are small, gruelly footprints all over the classroom and also a lot of screaming because the rat that Lenny found by the back of the chip shop is FREE. It takes the arrival of cool new girl, Jessica Conrad, to distract everyone. Jessica has a plan to catch the rat but it’ll cost them!

Can the three kids round up the rat before more damage is done? Or will they end up in the headmaster’s office – again. Maybe, but they’re going to need a bigger net… Make sure you don’t miss the next hilarious book in the series – Lenny Lemon And The Trail Of Crumbs.

If you loved Lenny Lemon, do try Cally & Jimmy: Twins Together by Zoe Antoniades and Katie Kear.

Join Cally and Jimmy in four hilarious stories, perfect for newly confident readers. They get into scrapes together, bake some poisonous cakes, almost ruin their school assembly and finally have a twintastic birthday party.

Hooked On Books – The Wall Between Us by Dan Smith.

This is Dan’s second win – the first being back in 2017 with Boy X – and the two books couldn’t be more different.

BERLIN 1961

Anja and Monika live opposite each other. They play together every day, with Otto the cat. One night they wake up to bangs and shouts. Soldiers are building a huge barbed wire fence between them. A terrible forever wall that gets longer and higher until it divides the whole city. On the East side, Monika is scared – neighbours are becoming spies and there are secret police everywhere. It’s Anja who spots that Otto has found a way across. If he can visit Monika, then perhaps she can too. But Anja gets trapped and there’s no safe way back …

Anja and Monika’s story is set in what feels like a terrifying dystopian world, yet it is one that existed in living memory. Dan has brought the terror of Berlin in 1961 to life in a gripping, unsettling read that will stay with me for a very long time.

Told through files, letters and newspaper articles, they really rooted the story in the reality that families would have lived. Most disturbing were the extracts from the Stasi files – as the reader, we could see a disastrous conclusion to Anja’s trip across the wall was coming, which cranked up the tension with each creaking floorboard and turn of the page.

If you loved this, try The Week At World’s End by Emma Carroll

Britain, 1962

Nothing ever happens in World’s End Close. So when Stevie discovers a runaway girl in her coal shed, the first thing she does is fetch her best friend, Ray. Both are dying for a bit of adventure, and when the girl begs for help, they readily agree. Yet they soon realise they’ve taken on more than they bargained for. The girl, Anna, reveals she’s on the run from people who are trying to poison her. Meanwhile, on the news, the Americans and Russians are arguing over missiles in Cuba.

As the threat of war grows, Anna’s behaviour becomes more mysterious. And when Stevie unearths a dark family secret, she wonders if Anna has come to World’s End Close on purpose, with a special message just for her…

Friendship, family and fear for the future are woven together to create a gripping story. Tension grows steadily as we adventure with Stevie and Ray through the week that was the Cuban Missile Crisis. A week where the world was on the brink of a war that no one could win.

Emma brings the world as it was in Britain in 1962 to life – a world of Mods and Rockers, new household appliances and the dreaded cane. With news focused on America, we not only see the Cold War at work, but the American Civil Rights Movement and peaceful protest brought to the fore. And that is just the backdrop to their adventure!

Huge thanks to everyone at Coventry Schools Library Service for organising another amazing Coventry Inspiration Book Awards this year. We have loved reading, talking and voting

Happy reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The Fifth Eviction

It’s the final eviction from the competition this week, and sadly we say goodbye to three amazing books.

What’s the Story? (Reception to Year 2) – The Dragon Painter by Lesley Sims, illustrated by BlueBean

A charming retelling of a traditional Chinese story makes the perfect addition to the ever growing series.

Chang is the best painter in all of China, so it’s Chang the Emperor sends for when his new temple needs painting. But why is Chang painting dragons without any eyes? Is it true, as he claims, that if you add eyes, painted dragons come to life? This delightful retelling has sweet, simple text and gorgeous illustrations, with plenty for children to spot as Chang paints his surprising dragons.

If this was your favourite story, try Luna and the Sky Dragon by Bethan Woollvin, an inspiring story perfect for little stargazers.


Luna loves the sky and finding out about all the wonders she can see above her. But the villagers can’t stop worrying about the mythical Sky Dragon – a fearsome creature who is said to dwell in the sky. Can Luna share her love of the sky and show the villagers that the Sky Dragon is nothing to be afraid of?

Featuring real constellations as well as facts about the milky way, eclipses, comets and other astronomical delights, this enteratins and educates in equal measure.

Telling Tales (Year 3 and 4) – Batpig: When Pigs Fly by Rob Harnell

BATPIG follows the amazing, porktastic adventures of Gary Yorkshire – an entirely normal piglet whose world is turned upside down when he’s bitten by his friend, Brooklyn the bat, and develops the power of flight! And what could Gary do with this newfound talent other than become a superhero?


Alternating between Batpig’s origin story and a furious and hilarious battle with his nemesis, Repto-Man, this is a brilliantly funny and skilfully rendered commercial young graphic novel series, with each book containing two separate stories.

If you loved Batpig, make sure you look out for the other books in the series, the latest of which is Go Pig Or Go Home, featuring magical sharks – and summer camp!

First there’s the sudden appearance of Sharkraham Lincoln (half shark! half president!), who sets off a major test cheating scandal. And then, at the worryingly named Camp Whomp-a-Pig, Gary’s hoping to finally get a break from superhero-ing, but a grumpy lake monster isn’t letting this sleeping pig lie. Will Batpig ever catch a break to just relax and enjoy a tasty sandwich, and not have to save the world?

Hooked On Books (Year 5 and 6) – Canaligator by Giovanni Eposito, illustrated by Purri Pankras

Canalligator is a graphic novel set in the canals of Birmingham and tells the rhyming tale of Casey, an unlikely reptile hero, and his friendship with four young people.

The combination of verse and graphic is quite unique and a QR code at the start of each chapter takes you to the author’s YouTube channel where the reader can view a short film about each chapter.

If Canalligator was your favourite, try Another Kind by Cait May and Trevor Bream, which is not your average monster story.

Tucked away in a government facility nicknamed the Playroom, six not-quite-human kids learn to control their strange and unpredictable abilities. Life is good—or safe, at least—hidden from the prying eyes of a judgmental world. That is, until a security breach forces them out of their home and into the path of the Collector, a mysterious being with leech-like powers.

Can the group band together to thwart the Collector’s devious plan, or will they wind up the newest addition to his collection?

You now have one more week to vote for your winner. Happy reading and don’t forget to vote for your favourite!