Tag: Reading For Pleasure

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The Second Eviction

Another week sees three more fabulous books leave the competition. Has your favourite survived the second round of evictions?

What’s the Story? (Reception to Year 2) – Dodos Are Not Extinct by Paddy Donnelly

Dodos are extinct, right? WRONG!
They’re not! They’re just in disguise, and they’re not the only ones. This book reveals the secrets of the woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and even dinosaurs! These famous creatures are in disguise everywhere, so keep your eyes peeled! You never know who might be right under your nose …

From author-illustrator Paddy Donnelly comes a hilarious story that will keep kids giggling and guessing on every page.


If this was your favourite book, try Dogs In Disguise by Peter Bentley, a joyful peek into the crazy antics of all sorts of dogs in disguise! Dressing up in clothing they find at home, these adventurous pooches blend into the crowd at all the places dogs aren’t allowed, like the store, the cinema and the swimming pool! But not all of their disguises go quite to plan, with hilarious results…

From schnauzers in trousers to cosmonaut cockapoos, this jaunty rhyming text from hugely popular, award-winning author, Peter Bently, with brilliantly witty illustrations from John Bond, creator of the Mini Rabbit books, will have children howling with laughter!

Telling Tales (Year 3 and 4) – The Wishkeeper’s Apprentice by Rachel Chivers Khoo

Wanted! A wishkeeper’s apprentice.

When Felix makes a very special wish, he doesn’t expect to be offered a job as an apprentice to wishkeeper Rupus Beewinkle. Now Felix must save the town’s wishes from the wishsnatcher, who wants to destroy hopes and dreams everywhere. Beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Rachel Sanson accompany this magical story.

If this was your favourite, look out for Rachel’s new book, The Magician Next Door, which publishes on 7th March. Late one night a flying house crash-lands in ten-year-old Callie’s garden. It is the home of magician Winnifred and all of her magical artefacts. Winnifred asks for Callie’s help finding her lost Wanderdust – until she realizes it is Callie’s sadness that is causing her malfunctioning magic.

With Winnifred’s most precious magical possessions at risk from malicious pixies and dangerous giants, can Callie and her friend Sam find the Wanderdust in time to save the magician?

Hooked On Books (Year 5 and 6) – The Stories Grandma Forgot by Nadine Aisha Jassat

“Grandma Farida has Alzheimer’s – but I’m going to help her remember a huge secret…”

Twelve-year-old Nyla’s dad died when she was four, or that’s what she’s been told. So when Grandma Farida insists she saw him in the local supermarket, Nyla wonders if Grandma is simply “time travelling” again – the phrase she uses when Grandma forgets.

But Grandma is Nyla’s best friend and when she asks Nyla to find her dad and bring him home, Nyla decides to make a brand new promise to her Grandma: to find him. As Nyla turns detective and sets out on a journey through her family’s past to try and find the truth, she also hopes that uncovering important stories will help her understand who she is, and where she fits in the world…

If you loved this emotional tale told in vers, try The Way Of Dog by Zana Fraillon.

Be strong. Be fierce. Life is more than a concrete floor.

Scruffity is born into a harsh, grey world. What he yearns for most is Family. But no one wants him. Just as his chances of adoption grow thin, Scruffity is set free by a boy as unwanted as he is. He learns how to run, to dig, to howl and, biggest of all, to love. But then tragedy strikes… How does a dog find his way home when he never had one to begin with?

If you don’t want your favourite book to be evicted next week, make sure you keep voting!

Happy reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The first eviction

We’ve read, we’ve discussed, and we’ve voted, and now the weekly vote offs have started.

The first books to leave the competition are:

What’s the Story? (Reception to Year 2) – Anansi And The Golden Pot by Taiye Selas

“Allow me to introduce myself.”
But he needed no introduction. “Anansi the spider!” said Anansi the boy. “The tales were true!”
“Traditional tales are always true,” the spider answered, laughing. “Nothing lasts so long as truth, nor travels quite so far.”

Kweku has grown up hearing stories about the mischievous spider Anansi. He is given the nickname Anansi by his father because of his similarly cheeky ways. On a holiday to visit his beloved Grandma in Ghana, Anansi the spider and Anansi the boy meet, and discover a magical pot that can be filled with whatever they want. Anansi fills it again and again with his favourite red-red stew, and eats so much that he feels sick. Will he learn to share this wonderful gift?

This charming retelling of a West African story teaches readers about the dangers of greed, and the importance of being kind. Tinuke Fagborun’s colourful illustrations bring the magic and wonder of the tale to life. When you’ve finished sharing the story, you can also find out more about the origins of Anansi folktales. This beautiful storybook is one that children will treasure forever.

If this was your favourite, look out for other Anansi stories of which there are many to enjoy regardless how old you are.

Telling Tales (Year 3 and 4) – Granny Came Here On The Empire Windrush by Patrice Lawrence

This heart-warming and heartfelt debut picture book from multi-award-winning author, Patrice Lawrence, will help ensure that the struggles and achievements of the Windrush generation are never forgotten.

One day, Ava is asked to dress as an inspirational figure for assembly at school, but who should she choose? Granny suggests famous familiar figures such as Winifred Atwell, Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks, and tells Ava all about their fascinating histories, but Ava’s classmates have got there first – and she must choose someone else. But who?

And then Ava finds a mysterious old suitcase – Granny’s “grip” – and Granny begins to share her own history, and how she came to England on the Empire Windrush many years ago. She tells her story through the precious items that accompanied her on the original voyage, each one evoking a memory of home, and as Ava listens to how Granny built a life for herself in England, determined to stay against the odds and despite overwhelming homesickness, she realises that there is a hero very close to home that she wants to celebrate more than anyone – her very own brave and beloved granny.

If you’d like to find out more about the Windrush Generation, try The Place for Me: Stories About the Windrush Generation, with 12 moving tales of sacrifice and bravery, inspired by first-hand accounts,

Hooked On Books (Year 5 and 6) – Kingdom Over The Sea by Zohra Nabi

My own Yara, if you are reading this, then something terrible has happened, and you are on your own. To return to the city of Zehaira, you must read out the words on the back of this letter . . . Good luck, my brave girl.

When Yara’s mother passes away, she leaves behind a letter and a strange set of instructions. Yara must travel from the home she has always known to a place that is not on any map – Zehaira, a world of sorcerers, alchemists and simmering magic. But Zehaira is not the land it used to be. The practice of magic has been outlawed, the Sultan’s alchemists are plotting a sinister scheme – and the answers Yara is searching for seem to be out of reach.
Yara must summon all of her courage to discover the truth about her mother’s past and her own identity, and to find her place in this magical new world.

If this was your favourite, look out for the second book in the series, The City Beyond The Stars, which will be published in April.

If you don’t want your favourite book to be evicted next week, make sure you keep voting!

Happy reading!

When is a book not a book?

When it’s an onion…

The Onion’s Great Escape by Sara Fanelli asks young readers to help the onion break free by answering thought-provoking questions and completing the activities within, finally pressing a three-dimensional character right out of the pages.

Asking big questions about themselves and the world around them, The ONion’s great escape helps children understand big ideas and emotions, and in turn, helps them to help others, including the onion to face their fears and live their best lives.

When it’s a quiz…

Name That Thing by Dr Gareth Moore, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke stretches your brain power with 20 fact-packed picture quizzes from expert puzzle master Dr Gareth Moore. Can you name a bird from its feather? How about a meal from its ingredients? What about a scientist from their discovery?

Covering themes, from nature, science and technology to sport, History and Geography, keep everyone guessing with hours of family fun. Part quiz book, part encyclopedia, with gorgeous hand-lettering and traditional artwork, this book is the ultimate gift book that can be enjoyed by the whole family and the large format makes it the perfect quiz book for curious children and their families to gather around.

When it’s a game…

Fighting Fantasy: Crystal Of Storms by Rhiamma Prachett is an astonishingly imaginative, edge-of-your-seat adventure – part story, part game! Grab your dice and a pencil, because you, the hero of this story, are a member of the Sky Watch keeping the floating archipelago of Pangaria safe.

When the Nimbus isle suddenly crashes out of the sky into the Ocean of Tempests below, you must explore the remaining islands, and battle both storms and sea beasts in your mission to raise Nimbus from the deep. You will be hunted by demonic harpies, rabid rats and even a Great White Squark and you’ll need every ounce of courage and quick wits to survive.

When it’s a robot…

Build A Robot by Steve Parker, illustrated by Owen Davey is this super-charged book will give you a unique, interactive guide to the world of robots. Combining a fact-filled book (did you know there are robot explorers and even robot doctors?) with a slide-out box containing three motors and pre-cut card pieces, you will become an expert robot-inventor in no time!

Once you have learned about the different robot that help in our world in a whole host of different ways, you can get stuck into building your own. Can you figure out how they work once you’ve built them all?

Happy reading, quizzing, gaming and building!

Books that ask big questions

This week, I have chosen books on the theme of Big Questions – those seeming simple questions that have big answers that will be every so slightly different for everyone.

I’m starting with Great Minds: 2500 Years Of Thinkers and Philosophy by Joan Haig and Joan Lennon, illustrated by Andre Ducci.

Discover 19 brilliant thinkers and their unique ideas that changed the world over 2,500 years!

Aristotle’s ideas shaped our understanding of the natural world for hundreds of years. Yacob’s Hatäta laid the grounds for equality long before our time. Gandhi’s philosophy inspired non-violent protest movements all over the world, and Langer shook up our understanding of what art is and can be. The brilliant ideas from each of these amazing thinkers have stayed with humans for centuries, teaching us new ways of uncovering our world and understanding each other.

Covering ideas from the last 2500 years, explore the time periods that shaped each thinker’s ideas, unpack the theories in accessible, easy to digest text and discover the impact they had for the years to come. Presented in graphic novel style, this is a book to inspire a new generation of thinkers and philosophers.

Next, for our younger readers, I have picked The Treasure: A Story About Finding Joy In Unexpected Places by Marcella Ferriera and Brian Lambert. 

The Treasure unfolds atop a desolate mountain, where an old chest houses a fabled treasure promising the fulfilment of dreams. Hare embarks on a quest, seeking adventure and excitement, only to encounter Bear and Bird, each with their own heartfelt aspirations: friendship and overcoming shyness.

As they journey together, the trio faces challenges, anticipating the grandeur of the treasure. Yet, when they reach their destination and uncover the long-awaited prize, a profound realization dawns on them. The true treasure is not the elusive object within the chest; instead, it’s the bonds of friendship they’ve forged along the way.

The Treasure beautifully encapsulates the essence of friendship and the inherent value it holds, delivering a touching and timeless message about the true treasures to be found in our world.

Finally, for Year 4 and above, I’ve chosen Stitch by Padraig Kenny.

Stitch’s simple questions dive deep into the essence of what it means to be human, exploring themes of acceptance and self-discovery. Stitch and Henry aren’t just artificial creations; they’re everything it means to be a good person with their unwavering friendship, loyalty, ability to forgive, and offer kindness in the face of cruelty.

He and his friend Henry Oaf were brought to life by the genius Professor Hardacre, and have spent all their days in a castle deep in the woods, far from humankind. But when the Professor dies and his pompous nephew comes to take over the laboratory, they soon find out that his sights are set not on scientific discovery, but personal glory. And Henry is his next experiment. Can Stitch and Henry escape his clutches and make their way in a world they were never built for – and may never be ready for them?

Stitch is a story about identity, friendship, and the pursuit of freedom in a world that struggles to understand or accept differences. Stitch and Henry, far from monstrous, grapple with their unique origins and their place in a society that may never be ready to accept them. Their world is thrown into danger when the Professor passes away, leaving them vulnerable to the desires of his nephew, a man shrouded in ambition and moral ambiguity. Tension, terror, escape, and a quest for a place to call home follow.

Happy reading!


Books for everyday of the year

Welcome to the first Friday Library Recommendations for 2024. This week, I have chosen books designed to be dipped into every day of the year.

My first choice is Britannica’s Word Of The Day, which has 366 elevating utterances to stretch your cranium and tickle your humerus, or 366 fantastic words to broaden your vocabulary!

Become a word virtuoso in just one year with 366 crackerjack words aimed to impress. This charmingly illustrated book features boffo words selected by the masterminds at Britannica to highlight the best of the English language.

Follow a menagerie of animals as they teach one new word for each day of the year, including a pronunciation guide, definition, sample sentence, and interesting trivia about the word’s usage or etymology. Each month concludes with an outlandish story that features all the new words learned.

This delightfully challenging and surprising book will turn word aficionados into passionate logophiles!

From words, to carefully chosen phrases, my next pick is A Whale Of A Time, selected by Lou Peacock and illustrated by Matt Hunt – a comically curated collection of 366 hilarious poems to keep you laughing all year round, surrounded by bright, bold mixed media illustrations.

Inspiration is drawn from some of the most mundane things in our world to some of the most spectacular, but every poem will raise a knowing smile, a smirk, or even full blown laughter.

The spectacular range of poems for children includes work by John Agard, Maya Angelou, Hilaire Belloc, Brian Bilston, Lucille Clifton, Wendy Cope, Roald Dahl, Edward Lear, Spike Milligan, Ogden Nash, Grace Nichols, Jack Prelutsky, Michael Rosen, Christina Rossetti, Benjamin Zephaniah and many more.

Finally I’ve chosen One Interesting Fact A Day from Bubbles Books featuring a cornucopia of facts to expand your brain.

What if you found a moment every day to learn something new? Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Of course, it would! And at the same time, we could forget about being bored and put our brains to good use!

One Interesting Fact a Day puts you at the center of a great adventure in which they you can learn all sorts of new things about the planet, the universe, nature, animals, and the human body, while expanding your vocabulary and improving your memory. Remind yourself every day how interesting the world we live in is! 

And finally, we have been exploring the shortlists for this year’s Coventry Inspiration Book Awards in school. Voting is now open with the first eviction taking place at the end of January, so make sure you vote for your favourite to keep it in the competition. You can vote here.

Happy reading!

Nativity Stories

It’s our final Friday Library Recommendations of 2023, and as we head towards the Christmas holidays, I’ve chosen books on the theme of Nativity.

Once Upon A Silent Night by Dawn Casey and Katie Hickey is a timeless retelling of the nativity story told in lyrical verse with stunning, luminous illustrations, that sing of a world in unity.

It is midnight on Christmas Eve, and a child is about to be born in a stable. How can the creatures help? First, the cow offers up his manger, and the donkey gives his hay. The doves will sing the babe to sleep, the trees will watch over him, and the moon will fill his dreams with silver light. It’s a moment of magic, as a little child enters the world and brings with him the most precious gift of all: love.

Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan is old but gold, and tells the nativity story from the view point of a very grumpy and over tired inn keeper.

When a night of angels, shepherds and bright stars keeps him from his sleep, is there anything that will cheer him up?

Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher reminds us that the journey undertaken in the nativity story is one that still happens on a daily basis where people are just trying to find a safe place for themselves and their family.

This powerful and evocative picture book, which tells the Christmas story and what follows the fleeing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from Herod’s soldiers to Egypt has timeless crossover appeal and a poignant message that couldn’t be more relevant today.

And finally, Operation Nativity by Jenny Pearson, illustrated by Katie Kear is the most wonderfully festive, family romp with a twist as the Angel Gabriel overpowers his proclamation and puts Christmas as we know it at risk. One that will make you laugh out loud, and possibly cry too, it’s a must for fans of funny.

When Oscar and Molly rush outside to investigate a crash in the night, they’re not expecting to find a dazed Angel Gabriel wandering around their grandparents’ back garden. And they’re certainly not expecting to find themselves in a race to save Christmas. But if they don’t track down a missing shepherd, wise man, donkey and the actual Mary and Joseph, who’ve all crash-landed in Chipping Bottom, not only will Christmas cease to exist, but they will too. Operation Nativity is on.

And finally – I have been exceptionally lucky to get a sneak preview of our very first Cannon Park Primary Newspaper which will be available for sale from Monday. It costs 50p per paper and is packed with fascinating facts about our Headteacher, Christmas, Space, Sports stars and even has some festive activities to keep you busy too.

Happy reading!

Cracking Christmas Books

There are some brilliant Christmas books from picture books to non fiction if a chapter a day of an advent book isn’t enough to get you in the festive spirit. Here are a few of my favourites:

From one of my favourite picture book partnerships comes a book that tackles a perennial question: How Does Santa Go Down The Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

When Santa arrives at a child’s house on Christmas Eve, does he go down the chimney feet first or headfirst? What if he gets stuck? What if there’s no chimney? Maybe he slides under the door, as thin as a piece of paper? Or is it possible he pours himself through the tap? What happens once he’s inside?

Deadpan comic humour in both prose and art are exactly what we’ve come to expect from this dream team, and they don’t disappoint. As scenarios become sillier, and answers further out of reach, the laughs will inevitably get louder. One thing is for certain though, this is not the answer you were looking for, but it is definitely the answer you need.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas And Other Festive Poems, chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell is a flurry of festive verse, some more familiar than others

Christmas has long been a source of inspiration and a moment of reflection for poets, from traditional verse to modern works. This is the perfect collection for readers young and old, as gorgeous illustrations throughout bring new life to classics, including The Night Before Christmas, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and We Three Kings.

Elsewhere, Chris has selected and responded to work from poets including Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Plath, William Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy, Hollie McNish, Sue Hardy Dawson, Roger Stevens, Benjamin Zephaniah, Clare Bevan, Sara Teasdale, A.F. Harrold, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ogden Nash, Robert Burns and Jackie Kay. This is a book to treasure, and to return to year after year.

For non-fiction fans, A Very Curious Christmas by Maddie Moat is the perfect book to help you count down to the big day while learning about the wide range of customs and traditions different families observe.

Maddie tackles a wide range of questions that many have pondered, from the explosive mysteries of Christmas crackers to the origin of the iconic Christmas tree in this delightful and informative non-fiction book that unravels the mysteries and wonders of the festive season.

Each chapter includes wintery activities and craft ideas, making it a perfect companion for getting into the holiday spirit. Perfect to explore year after year, this is a gift of a book that will keep on giving.

And finally, I’m going back to fiction for our third Christmas with the Carrolls in The Christmas Club by Mel Taylor-Bessent, and this time, they’re in New York!

Holly and her family are about to lead the famous Christmas parade in New York City! But there’s a hitch. They have been invited to join the exclusive Christmas Club, whose members are among the most Christmassy family in the world. They simply have to follow the mysterious White Reindeer to find the Christmas Club’s secret headquarters in Manhattan. But when the White Reindeer shows up in the middle of the Christmas parade, the Carrolls are faced with a dilemma… Should they stay, or should they go?

With loveable New York characters, a mystery surrounding Holly’s mum Snow’s real name, and a new little furry friend, this book is an absolute banger of a Christmas Cracker! The last in the trilogy, it’s a brilliant way to say goodbye to the most fabulously festive family of all.

Happy reading!

Advent Books

It’s December 1st which means it’s time to start reading books with a chapter a day between now and Christmas. I could fill this week with books just by the King Of Christmas – Mr Alex T.Smith, but there are so many more to explore!

I’m starting with The Christmas Chronicles by John Townsend and James Newman Grey which contains 24 magical Christmas stories set in the snowy North Pole as Santa prepares to deliver presents round the world on Christmas Eve.

Open each door in turn on the beautiful advent calendar-style cover to find the page number that will lead you to the next story in the series. The stories feature a cast of memorable characters, including Mr and Mrs Santa, elves, reindeer and polar bears, and are filled with humorous and breath-taking adventures.

Family, friendship and festivities are woven together to create a cosy blanket of a book that deserves to be shared with loved ones in L.D. Lapinski’s Step Father Christmas.

It’s 25 days until Christmas, and 10-year-old Harper gets a surprise when Mum announces she’s bringing her new boyfriend Nick home for the holidays! Nick seems nice enough. But why do strange Christmassy things happen whenever he’s around? Like snow falling only in the family’s garden? Or a reindeer suddenly appearing on the roof?! Harper’s convinced that Nick must be Father Christmas! And if her mum and older brother won’t believe her, she’ll just have to find a way to prove it herself…

With 25 chapters, it’s an advent calendar in book form that will leave you with a warm glow in your heart, and hunger for gingerbread and hot chocolate. And even better, this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Halls, which has made not only this Christmas but next year’s too!

My next pick is a non-fiction title, and makes the perfect gift to spread joy this Christmas – Welcome To The Museum: A Christmas Pop-Up Advent Calendar by 

In conjunction with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, fans of the bestselling Welcome to the Museum series can now countdown to Christmas with this beautiful pop-up advent calendar. Inside, readers will find a beautiful pop-up tree, alongside a 28 page mini booklet detailing all the wonderful flora and fauna there is to discover during the autumn and winter months, from reindeer to red robins, and pear trees to poinsettia.

Hidden in compartments beneath it are 25 removable and displayable cardboard ornaments – including pine cones, holly leaves, cinnamon bundles and acorns. This is the ideal sustainable gift, and would look stunning as a centrepiece year after year. I’ll be opening this one in the library everyday so why not see if you can spot what is added each day.

And finally, I can’t choose between adventuring with Winston and friends, The Grumpus, or Clara and Fritz Strudel. What I do know is all of these books are fizzing with the essence of Christmas, full of daring friends, dazzling escapades and are a fabulous way to count through December days to Christmas Day itself.

In Alex’s latest festive treat, The Nutcracker And The Mouse King’s Christmas Shenanigans, the Mouse King is up to some very sneaky shenanigans. The night before Christmas, he steals the key to the Kingdom of Sweets and sets out to cause as much festive mayhem as he can! Clara and Fritz Strudel, and their new friend the Nutcracker, are the only ones who can stop him. But when a magical curse is put on Fritz, it’s a race against time to make it to the Kingdom of Sweets and find the Sugar Plum Fairy – the only one who can break the spell! Can the adventurers stop the Mouse King’s naughty plan and save Fritz, before it’s too late?

Happy reading!

Coventry Inspiration Book Awards: The First Evictions

It’s time to say goodbye to the first books in this year’s competition. Make sure you keep voting so that your favourite book doesn’t get voted out!

What’s The Story? said goodbye to I Don’t Like Books. Never Ever. The End by Emma Perry and Sharon Davey. Mabel hates books. She gets given loads of them but has no interest in reading them whatsoever. Instead of reading them, she uses them for all sorts of things, from juggling to sledging, but she never looks at the stories inside. One night, the books have had enough and piled up in her bedroom they come alive. The stories jump out of their covers and off the pages so that they can show Mabel their story worlds. She is intrigued by a detective adventure, excited by the chance to board a spaceship and take a trip to the moon, delighted by the thought of accompanying a knight on his quest to seek castles and to duel with dragons. However, there is no way she can find out what happens next in these stories unless she begins to read the books!

If you enjoyed Mabel’s story, try You Choose: Fairy Tales by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Make up your very own fairy tale adventure where YOU CHOOSE what happens next!
Which fairy tale hero would you like to be today? Where will you go on your fairy tale quest? And what fairy tale baddy would you least like to meet? The possibilities are infinite in this captivating creative toolkit which will inspire children from three up to make their own stories again and again.

Telling Tales lose Sohal Finds A Friend by Jion Sheibani. Sohal worries about a lot of things: the dark, mutant sheep, being alone – you name it, he worries about it! So one night he tries drawing his worries to make himself feel better – and somehow they look a lot less worrying once they’re scribbled down. But then imagine Sohal’s surprise when he wakes up the next morning to find a set of funny, furry friends at the end of his bed! His worries have come to life, and it’s not long before Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big and Alone have turned his world upside down. Now it’s up to Sohal to work out how to keep his worries under control – and have some serious fun while he’s at it!

If you enjoyed Sohal Finda A Friend, try Sam Wu Is Not Afraid Of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang. The first in a brilliantly funny series about the bravest scaredy-cat in the world. Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except he is). When a trip to the Space Museum goes terrifyingly wrong, Sam begins a mission to prove to the school bully, and all of his friends, that he is a fearless space adventurer. A truly laugh-out-loud, voice-led and madcap story of ghost hunting, snakes and mischievous pet cats called Butterbutt

The first book out of Hooked On Books is The Last Gate Of The Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen. Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears. Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the centre of them. Together with Besa and the Ibis – a game rival turned reluctant ally – Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.

If you enjoyed The Last Gate Of The Emperor, try Skywake: Invasion by Jamie Russell, an exciting and original debut sci-fi adventure trilogy for the gaming generation, from a screenwriter, film critic and gamer. Fifteen-year-old girl gamer Casey Henderson is obsessed with smash-hit game SkyWake – and she’s good at it, too. Little does she realize it’s actually an alien training tool created by an evil extra-terrestrial race. When the aliens swoop down on a national gaming tournament, Casey and her teammates discover they’re abducting the best gamers to fight in a distant alien war across the galaxy. And they’ve got her brother. Casey’s gaming skills are her best hope of stopping the aliens – but first she and her online teammates must learn to work together in real life…

If you don’t want your favourite book to be evicted next week, make sure you keep voting here!

It’s the Year of the Tiger!

With Chinese New Year on Tuesday, we have entered the Year of the Tiger. The children have produced some fabulous writing and artwork based on these fearsome creatures, some of which is on display at Cannon Park Shops – do make sure you go and have a look!

My books this week feature tigers, and other animals.

First, I have The Tyger Voyage by Richard Adams (Watership Down) and Nicola Bayley.  A gentleman tyger and his son set sail from Victorian England into the timeless unknown. Together they roam across the seas, through jungles, past ice-covered mountains and erupting volcanoes and many more unexpected hazards along the way.

Told in verse using language to capture the era the story is set in, which is also evoked in Nicola Bayley’s stunning illustrations, this is as captivating today as it was when it was first read to me as a child.

Next, I have Interview With A Tiger by Andy Seed, illustrated by Nick East. Get familiar with 10 fierce and furry beasts as they step up to the mic and share their habits, behaviour, likes and dislikes, favourite foods, and more. Each animal has its own story to tell… and its own attitude…

Having made a tranimalator, Andy Seed has scoured the planet to conduct some amazing interviews with ten spectacular, clawed creatures, including a tiger, wolf, and my personal favourite, a snow leopard.

Each interview is packed with fascinating facts about the animals and their habitats, with each creature’s personality shining through. It has to be said, their views on humans don’t show us in a particularly good light.

Nick East’s fabulous illustrations pair perfectly with Andy Seed’s trademark wit and warmth to create a perfect pleasure browser that can be dipped in and out of, but once I started, I found I wanted to meet all of the animals at once.

Finally, I have chosen Carnival Of The Animals by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman. Morpurgo’s poems are inspired by The Carnival of the Animals – a humorous musical by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Building on this classic framework, Michael has added many more animals – they speak in their own voices, full of humour and vivacity, to tell of their lives and the impact of humanity on their habitats.

With full colour illustrations throughout, this celebrated partnership has created a gift book with a strong ecological message that will also ignite a love of poetry in young readers and will appeal to fans of The Lost Words. Above all it is a celebration of the natural world in verse, a book to treasure and to inspire.