Spooky Reads for Halloween

The leaves are falling and an autumnal chill is definitely in the air. This week’s recommendations are great for curling up indoors after a trip to the park (don’t forget to scan the GoParks QR code) and all have a spooky theme ready for Halloween.

For younger children, A World Full Of Spooky Stories by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Madalina Andronic, is a collection of 50 tales to make your spine tingle from all over the world. Whether you fancy a trip into the woods, down by the water, up a mountain or even to a grave yard, these short stories are perfect for snuggling up together for a safe scare! It’s a wonderfully diverse collection of spooky tales linked by their spooky theme, but I loved discovering links between stories from other countries, reminding me how myths and legends develop through time.

For our older children, The Red Gloves And Other Stories by Catherine Fisher, is a deliciously dark collection of tales that mix fear with myth, heart and magic. 

Enthralling, evocative storytelling, makes this spooky collection of nine haunting short stories a must for readers who like their books to send a shiver up their spines.

Each chilling tale is steeped in suspense and had me clinging to my cushion of comfort. Whether supernatural, mythical or unexplainable, Catherine has woven a web of stories to lose yourself in (just not at bedtime for me!). Her descriptions bring each setting to life, I could feel the silky red gloves, the hare’s fur, the silver road beneath my feet, just as much as the characters’ growing unease.

The tales conjured images from Harris Burdick in my mind as I read The Silver Road, and the Ghost In The Rain is reminiscent of the world The Clockwork Crow is set in. The Introduction gives really helpful information as to the origins and ideas behind each story and I will definitely be seeking out the traditional tale that Nettle is based on.  

For non-fiction fans, The World Of The Unknown: All About Ghosts by Christopher Maynard, is an absolute must! Originally published in 1977, this has been reissued for a new generation of ghost-hunters. I read my childhood copy until it fell apart so am delighted to see it back in print.  This book is for anyone who has shivered at shadowy figures in the dark, heard strange sounds in the night, or felt the presence of a mysterious ‘something’ from the unknown. Ghost stories are as old as recorded history and exist all over the world. Many of the different kinds of ghosts that are thought to haunt the Earth and their behaviour are described here. You will meet haunting spirits, screaming skulls, phantom ships, demon dogs, white ladies, gallows ghosts and many more. This book also explains the techniques and equipment of ghost hunting and tells how lots of ‘ghosts’ have been exposed as fakes or explained away as natural events. Also included are some theories that attempt to explain the possible existence of ghosts. With a brand new foreword by BAFTA-winning writer, comedian and actor Reece Shearsmith, otherwise the book remains unchanged from the original.

And finally, the monsters are back this half-term in Coventry so I thought a monstrously good book recommendation was in order to welcome them. The Maker Of Monsters by Lorraine Gregory is a multi-layered, mesmerising dystopian fantasy, and an epic adventure, all packed into a short read, brimming with heart, humour and horrifying monsters. Themes of power and corruption, love and loss, and self-worth and the monster we carry with us run subtly beneath the action packed plot, which make this a fabulous read for empathy. 

Brat has always lived in the isolated castle on the island, taking care of the vicious creatures that his master creates, waiting in terror for the moment when they are ready to be put to use. But then the unthinkable happens. The monsters get out. Now Brat must overcome his fears, and venture into the world he has hidden from his whole life. For the fate of everyone rests on his shoulders alone. . .

You can find out more about the monster trail here: Beware! The Monsters are back | Coventry City Council

Have a spooktacular half-term!

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Read For Empathy – Black History Month

October is Black History Month, and all of this week’s recommendations show the lives of people growing up black in Britain throughout history.

For our younger children, I have chosen Hey You! An empowering celebration of growing up black by Dapo Adeola. This picture book was born out of Adeola’s realisation that, as a child, there were no books he saw that featured black children in a meaningful way. In Hey You! he has created a touching, empowering text that highlights the power of creativity, black heritage, community and family. Featuring illustration from 18 black artists as well as Adeola himself, this beautiful book also serves as a brilliant directory of work from black illustrators, enabling parents to look up their other books, or keep an eye out for their work in the future.

A baby is born to loving parents, and grows up – going to school, making friends. Yet it’s hard for her to find books to read containing girls that look like her. Sometimes, as she grows up, she encounters racism, and life can be very hard. Yet she is reminded that she stands on the shoulders of the great black community that has come before her – and that she has the power to be anything and anyone she wants to be.

The Place For Me: Stories About The Windrush Generation by  K. N. Chimbiri, Kevin George, Salena Godden, Judy Hepburn, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Kirsty Latoya, Katy Massey, E. L. Norry, Quincy the Comedian, Jermain Jackman. With cover art by Joelle Avelino.

This book presents 12 moving tales of sacrifice and bravery, inspired by first-hand accounts of the Windrush generation.

“Home ain’t jus’ where you live. Home is your heart an’ yer history.”

Each inspiring story helps to bring the real experience of Black British people into focus. Produced in partnership with Black Cultural Archives to honour the Windrush generation, it also includes ten photo-packed fact sections.

Coming To England by Floella Benjamin is available as both a picture book for younger readers and as a novel for independent readers. The 25th Annivesary edition of the novel now has additional historical information, and is beautifully illustrated throughout by Joelle Avelino.

Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months. They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London – part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced. She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else. This inspirational story is a powerful reminder of how courage and determination can overcome adversity.

The Voices Series published by Scholastic, for Year 5 and 6, tell amazing diverse stories about everyday people in British History. Here are three that tie in perfectly with Black History Month.

Empire’s End: A Roman Story by Leila Rasheed. As well as being an amazing story, it sparked my curiosity and I went on to research one of the real-life characters in the book. I have studied and helped to teach Romans, and until I read this book, I had absolutely no idea that Britannia had been ruled by a Black African Roman Emperor!

When, Camilla, a young North African girl travels with her mother and father from Leptis Magna to Rome in 207 AD, she believes that she is going to the centre of the world. But just a few months later, the little family is dispatched to the very edge of it: Britannica. Tragedy strikes and, left alone with the Empress while her father travels north, Camilla has to navigate the tricky world of of secrets and danger in this cold place she must now call home. In this heart-stopping adventure based on real historical events, Leila Rasheed shows us a dangerous and intriguing time in Britain that’s sure to fascinate young readers.

Diver’s Daughter: A Tudor Story by Patrice Lawrence brings Eve and her mother, who was stolen from her family in Mozambique as a child, from the Southwark slums of Elizabethan London to England’s southern coast. When they hear from a Mary Rose survivor that one of the African free-divers who was sent to salvage its treasures is alive and well and living in Southampton, mother and daughter agree to try to find him and attempt to dive the wreck of another ship, rumoured to be rich with treasures. But will the pair survive when the man arrives to claim his ‘share’? Will Eve overcome her fear of the water to help rescue her mother?

Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah is a heart-stopping adventure that shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation. Leonard is shocked when he arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is a stranger to him, it’s cold and even the Jamaican food doesn’t taste the same as it did back home in Maroon Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well at school – even when people hurt him with their words and with their fists. How can a boy so far from home learn to enjoy his new life when so many things count against him?

Happy reading!


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Celebrating Stories Told In Verse.

So many picture books are written in verse, but stories stop being told that way as we get older. Yesterday was National Poetry Day, so this week’s recommendations are some of my favourite verse novels.

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig, illustrated by Chris Mould, is a wonderfully uplifting tale of life, loneliness, worries and the power of true friendship and a must read for building empathy in our world, and for understanding that even when being truthful, we can do so with kindness.

When Truth Pixie was small, her Great Aunt Julia cast a spell which means she can only ever tell the truth. And that’s a good thing, right? Wrong! Lonely and miserable, the Truth Fairy has upset her family and friends with her truths to the point she rarely ventures out and does her best to ignore people when she absolutely must leave the safety of her home. When the cupboards are bare and food shopping becomes essential she heads to town. But will she manage to control her truths when faced with a Troll?

As with Reasons To Stay Alive (for adults), Matt Haig takes life’s complexity and drills down to the basics – it isn’t always a wonderful life, and actually, that’s ok. With poignant messages for children struggling with change, friendships and saying goodbye, this is an all year round story perfect for helping children (and adults) accept life’s ups and downs. Chris Mould’s illustrations match the tale perfectly with humour and brevity by turn, making this a truly special little book.

Zombierella by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Freya Hartas is a gloriously gruesome reimagining of a timeless tale for a new generation. From the moment our librarian enters the hidden section of the library and discovers the books gone bad, we are treated to hideous humour and scares-a-plenty as well known characters take on a new lease of life, or should that be death, in Joseph Coelho’s hauntingly beautiful tale told in verse.

New perspectives and unexpected twists shock and thrill in equal measure as the story unfolds with plenty for scare seekers to revel in. Freya Hartas has captured the eeriness and energy of the characters and settings in her stunning illustrations which compliment the thrilling prose perfectly. As with any classic fairy tale, there is love, loss and hope, but this offers so much more besides. Moral dilemmas offer plenty of food for thought along the way. With an ending that is as enchanting as it is unexpected, Zombierella is a joy to read!

A yellow moon hangs in a satin sky the night Cinderella, barefoot and in hand-me-downs, slips at the top of the stairs … and dies. But not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, Cinderella goes forth as ZOMBIERELLA. With her skin as cold as ice and her faithful horse Lumpkin back by her side, can she seek revenge on her three cruel, fake sisters, once and for all?

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, In The Key Of Code by Aimee Lucido is an original, inventive and heart-warming novel from an exciting debut author about a lonely new girl and an unlikely friendship formed in a school code club.

When twelve-year-old Emmy’s musical family moves to California so her dad can take a job with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Emmy has never felt more out of tune. But when she ends up in a school computer science club, she finds that she can understand code through a language she is familiar with: music. Slowly, Emmy makes friends with Abigail and the two girls start to discover their voices through the programming language of Java.

Extraordinarily crafted, the verse novel begins to incorporate Java’s syntax and concepts as Emmy, and ultimately the reader, learns to think in code. By the end, Emmy doesn’t feel like a wrong note, but like a musician in the world’s most beautiful symphony. Verse is the perfect form to tell this lyrical story where music and coding are intertwined throughout.

As Sunday is World Mental Health Day, I am sharing a collection of poems that help children to understand their emotions. An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings From A to Z is a wonderful look at a whole range of emotions mixed with creatures from all over our planet.

Emotions are like animals:
No two are quite the same.
Some are quiet; some are fierce;
And all are hard to tame.

Using rich language to describe each of the discussed emotion as an animal, we are encouraged to explore what causes them and how we can manage them successfully, and by building our understanding of emotional vocabulary, we help to manage our mental health now and into the future.

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Read For Empathy – Poverty & Hunger

For harvest this year, we are asking for donations to Coventry Foodbank. As we did last year, crates will will be placed in bike sheds so that donations can be put in before and after school during next week (from Monday 4th October to Friday 8th October).

Books are a brilliant way for children to explore the lives of others, and this week’s books all link to families who may find themselves in need of their local foodbank.

It’s a No Money Day by Kate Milner is a moving insight into the sad rise and necessity of foodbanks from the perspective of society’s most vulnerable, and an essential book to help develop empathy in younger readers.

Mum works really hard, but today there is no money left and no food in the cupboards. Forced to visit the local foodbank, Mum feels ashamed that they have to rely on the kindness of others, but her young daughter can still see all the good in her day like reading and drawing, and even the foodbank. Maybe one day things will be different but for now together they brighten up even the darkest of days.

The Invisible by Tom Percival is a moving, powerful story that shines a light on those that feel invisible in our world – and shows us that we ALL belong.

The Invisible is the story of a young girl called Isabel and her family. They don’t have much, but they have what they need to get by. Until one day, there isn’t enough money to pay their rent and bills and they have to leave their home full of happy memories and move to the other side of the city. It is the story of a girl who goes on to make one of the hardest things anyone can ever make…a difference. And it is the story of those who are overlooked in our society – who are made to feel invisible – and why everyone has a place here. We all belong!

Poverty & Hunger by Louise Spilsbury and Hanane Kai is a beautiful picture book for older children, that explores what poverty and hunger are and how they affect children all over the world.

The Children in Our World picture book series helps children make sense of the larger issues and crises that dominate the news in a sensitive and appropriate manner. With relatable comparisons, carefully researched text and striking illustrations, children can begin to understand what poverty and hunger are, how they affect people in countries all over the world and how readers can help those affected.

Where issues aren’t appropriate to describe in words, award-winning illustrator, Hanane Kai, uses striking, sensitive, age appropriate illustrations to help children visualise the people and situations impacted by poverty and hunger.

For our older readers, Make Me Awesome by Ben Davis is a hilariously, heart-warming story about the power of self-belief and friendship. Make Me Awesome highlights the issues surrounding poverty and mental health, and their impact on families. Freddie turns desperation into determination and will have you crying with laughter as he embarks on various schemes to be awesome. I loved that the school library was at the heart of this story as a place for everyone to go, meet up with friends, old and new, try out new things and have fun. Did I say it was awesome? It’s more than awesome – it’s MAWESOME!

When Freddie’s Dad loses his job, the Smallhouse family hit tough times, and have to move in with Uncle Barry. When he announces that he has a job in Germany and will be selling his home, Freddie knows he has to do something. With the help of awesome life coach, Chuck Willard, he sets out to save himself and his parents from living in a B&B. Can the Make Me Awesome programme help Freddie to be as awesome as Chuck and turn his family’s fortunes around?


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Friday Library Recommendations…

This week has been The Great British Beach Clean Up and also Recycling Week, so this week’s books all have an environmental theme.

Clean Up by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola is a heart-warming, timely and empowering picture book, showing how we ALL can make a difference.

Join lovable, passionate Rocket as she sets off on a mission to save a Caribbean island from plastic pollution! When Rocket goes for a holiday to visit her grandparents, she’s shocked by the pollution that is spoiling their island home and putting the local sea life at risk. Can she think of a way to save the day?

Being just about as far from the sea as we can be, I’ve also picked Tidy by Emily Gravett, which is a wonderfully humorous woodland story about the perils of being too tidy, with a subtle environmental message about preservation of our environment.

Pete the badger likes everything to be neat and tidy at all times, but what starts as the collecting of one fallen leaf escalates and ends with the complete destruction of the forest! Will Pete realise the error of his ways and set things right?

Perfect for newly independant readers, Sona Sharma: Looking After Planet Earth by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Jen Khatun is another fabulous story set in Sona’s bustling family household, spotlighting daily life, culture and traditions in Chennai, India. Perfect for younger readers looking for a mirror to their own family life, or window to an authentic view of a different culture, they will relate to the school setting, while the cultural detail will immerse them into Sona’s world. Jen’s delightful illustrations highlight Chitra’s characters in beautiful, expressive detail, and bring the settings, family and traditional drawings to life.

When Sona learns about the climate crisis at school and is very worried that no one is doing enough to combat it, she takes up the challenge herself. But Appa isn’t amused when Sona throws out her baby sister’s nappies and Thatha isn’t happy when she tells him to get rid of his colour-coded plastic files. When Sona learns that many of the kolams – the traditional art that people draw in front of their homes to celebrate the winter months and the festival season – are not organic, she sets out to make some big changes by getting everyone involved.

For older children, Pop! by Mitch Johnson is a jaw-dropping look at consumerism and profiteering above all else, the damage it creates to our world, and fizzy drink addiction. Mitch combines the perfect amounts of satire, suspense and serious laughs to create a gripping story fizzing with Mitch combines the perfect amounts of satire, suspense and serious laughs to create a gripping story fizzing with flabbergasting moments where I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I mainly laughed, but when you stop and think… The exaggerated boardroom scenes are both hilarious and horrifying.

When the priceless recipe to the world’s most popular drink – thought to be lost forever – washes up at her feet, Queenie’s life instantly changes. Everyone wants it, and with a $10 million bounty on her head, Queenie’s soon on the run. Pursued by bounty hunters, black-ops helicopters and angry mobs, Queenie’s journey involves a trip to Area 51, a man-eating alligator and an unlikely new friend, Todd.

But being on the run also makes Queenie begin to see the world around her more clearly – a world in which a big corporation’s excess has left the planet covered in its plastic bottles and waste. Suddenly, the home she always dreamed of escaping, and the ocean she grew up with and took for granted, don’t seem so bad. If Queenie and Todd can bring down the bad guys, maybe she can go back home and make a difference…

And finally, Old Enough To Save The Planet by Loll Kirby and Adelina Lirius is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction browser celebrating young people who have made a difference to our planet.

From Shalise in Australia cleaning up pollution from the shores, to Amy and Ella in the UK committed to eradicating single-use plastics, we see 12 inspiring ideas to help save our planet. Meet kids – just like you – taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and discover how the future of our planet starts here… with you. Maybe it will inspire you to take action at home or maybe even in school!

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If you like Roald Dahl, try…

Tuesday 13th was Roald Dahl Story Day, so to celebrate, I’ve chosen books inspired by his funny, fantastical stories.

For younger children, I’ve picked The Secret Of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton, a magical tale of finding the truth to the legends that surround Black Rock. Highly imaginative, with a gentle environmental message, Erin’s tale is a fabulous read with dazzling illustrations.

Erin loves to lie on the jetty, looking for the weirdest fish in the sea the weirder, the better! And she knows the best ones must be further out, where her mum won’t let her go…

Out there in the deepest sea lies the Black Rock: a huge, dark and spiky mass that is said to destroy any boats that come near it! Can Erin uncover the truth behind this mysterious legend?

For Year 3 and up, I’ve chosen The Magic Place by Chris Wormell. Stunning illustrations bring this charmingly funny story to life. with villains reminiscent of the Twits, this is sure to be a hit with Dahl fans.

“And even though she only saw it in her dreams, she felt sure it was real.”

Clementine works as a slave for her wicked aunt and uncle. But she dreams of a magic place, and she’s determined to escape and find it. With the help of a very clever cat, she sets off on an adventure that might just make her dreams come true.

For older children, Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard, is full of charm and quirkiness, with characters to both love and loathe – a tale of mystery, adventure and beetles with a side order of slapstick that just cries out for one more chapter. The first of a trilogy that gets better with every book!

Darkus can’t believe his eyes when a huge insect drops out of the trouser leg of his horrible new neighbour. It’s a giant beetle – and it seems to want to communicate. But how can a boy be friends with a beetle? And what does a beetle have to do with the disappearance of his dad and the arrival of Lucretia Cutter, with her taste for creepy jewellery?

Happy reading!

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Welcome to the first Friday Library Recommendations of the school year!

It’s lovely to see all of the children back in school! I completed the Summer Reading Challenge 10 times over (more than 60 books!) and these are a few of my favourites.

For Reception and Key Stage One, Ten Delicious Teachers by Ross Montgomery and Sarah Warburton is a monstrously dark  book told in verse about the perils of missing the bus home and walking through the woods. Laugh out loud funny, Sarah’s delightful illustrations are the perfect backdrop to Ross’s raucous rhyming tale that is bound to have children joining in. With plenty to discover in each spread, this is a book that I am sure will be read over and over again.

For Year 3 and 4, and beyond, Peanut Jones And The Illustrated City by Rob Biddulph, the man behind the world record breaking #DrawWithRob event last year, is glorious celebration of imagination and creativity, Peanut Jones And The Illustrated City is a laugh out loud funny adventure with a huge heart. Highly illustrated throughout, this is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a child. Short chapters mean just one more could easily extend to three or four more… Dastardly villains, brave heroes, and an eclectic supporting cast in a beautifully created world will have you routing for Peanut and her companions as they work together using their unique skills to tackle every obstacle that comes their way. Creativity, physics and code-breaking are all required to stay one step ahead of Mr White’s Razers. There is even a glossary at the end for anyone who wants to find out more about the artists we encounter along the way.

For Year 5 & 6, we have Adam-2 by Alistair Chisholm. a dystopian sci-fi set in a world at war. Packed with twists and turns from beginning to end, this is a thrill-a-page story with much to discuss beyond the story, from the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, to the rights and wrongs of war, and how differing cultures can come together and live in harmony. While much of the story is dark, it is hopeful and heartfelt.

And finally, a picture book that is suitable for everyone and sings of our school values. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman is a celebration of every one no matter their race, religion or background. Bright, bold illustrations accompany the uplifting verse, with the repeated refrain of All Are Welcome Here, reminded me of the wonderfully kind, friendly, diverse community that makes up Cannon Park Primary School.

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Summer Reading

Hello everyone, it’s the last Friday Library for this school year, so I’m going to share a couple more books that tie in with the Summer Reading Challenge theme of #WildWorldHereos, and then I have a special book for Year 6.

Don’t forget, you can sign up to the challenge at https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/ or pop into your local library. It’s totally free!

First up I have Amara And The Bats by Emma Reynolds.

Environmental activism gets a nocturnal twist in this utterly charming picture book about a young girl and her mission to save the bats! Amara loves bats! Her favourite thing to do is to collect bat facts and watch the amazing mammals fly at night by her house. But when Amara moves to a new town, she learns that her beloved bats no longer roost nearby because they are losing their habitat. Amara is upset. What can she do to help? She’s just one person, and the problem feels so much bigger than her. But after doing some research, she discovers that there are many young people making big changes all around the world. Inspired to take action, Amara gathers her new friends to help save the bats. Together, she knows they can make a difference! Emma Reynolds crafts an inspiring story about community action, perseverance, and what to do in the face of climate anxiety. At its heart, this is a story about hope and finding a place to call home.

Next up is The Most Important Animal Of All by Penny Worms, illustrated by Hannah Bailey.

A beautiful picture book where a teacher challenges her class to decide which is the most important animal of all. Seven children champion a different animal for the top spot. Is it bees as master pollinators, or bats who are night-time predators and pollinators? Is it elephants who shape their landscapes and spread seeds, or beavers who create watery habitats? Is it tigers or sharks who keep populations in balance so there is food for all? Is it tiny krill, food for so many whales and sea creatures? Packed with information about a myriad of species, and combining captivating illustrations and photographs showing them up close and in their habitats, this is a brilliant book to introduce the concepts of habitat loss, endangered species and climate change to younger readers.

Song Of The Far Isles by Nicholas Bowling is a stunningly beautiful, evocative writing bring this gripping adventure to life.

Oran lives on Little Drum, where music is everything. Every islander has a birth instrument and a life song – and the ancestors, called ghasts, linger to hear the music. But when the Duchess arrives from the mainland bringing orders of silence, she threatens the ghasts’ existence, the very soul of the community. When Oran hears of a mythical instrument with the power to manipulate hearts, she brings her ghast best friend, Alick, on a quest to find it, play it, and change the Duchess’s mind…

And finally, for Year 6, You Are A Champions by Marcus Rashford.

A brilliant book to help ease any worries you may have about moving on to secondary school, and build the skills you need to be the best you can be. It shows you how to:

  • Be comfortable with who you are – you can’t be a champion until you’re happy being you!
  • Dream big
  • Practise like a champion
  • Get out of your comfort zone and learn from your mistakes
  • Navigate adversity in a positive way
  • Find your team
  • Use your voice and stand up for others
  • Never stop learning

As Marcus says, you are already a champion – you just might not know it yet.



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Summer Reading Challenge

We’re so excited to reveal the theme for the Summer Reading Challenge 2021!

Get ready for Wild World Heroes, arriving online and in your local library this summer.

Pack your bags, we’re headed for Wilderville! It’s a pretty cool place, but there are lots of things that the Wild World Heroes can do to make their town even better for the people and animals that live there.

Join the Wild World Heroes for the Summer Reading Challenge and discover how you can make a difference to the environment too at https://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/ or sign up at your local library. It’s totally free!

Are you excited to join the #WildWorldHeroes this summer?

Here a just a few of my favourite books featuring #WildWorldHeroes.

Unplugged by Steve Anthony

A delightful picture book about the wonders of all the fun you can have inside AND outside, by the award-winning Steve Antony, author of the bestselling Please Mr Panda.

BLIP spends all day plugged into her computer, playing games and having fun. But when there is a POWER CUT, Blip goes down the stairs and out the front door, where she discovers playing games and having fun . . . OUTSIDE. Isn’t it wonderful to be UNPLUGGED?

Agents Of The Wild by Jennifer Bell and Alice Lickens

When 8-year-old Agnes is signed up for SPEARS (the Society for the Protection of Endangered and Awesomely Rare Species), she has no idea of the adventures that lie ahead with her elephant-shrew mentor Attie (short for “Attenborough”). Operation Honeyhunt sends them to the Brazilian rainforest, on a mission to save an endangered, dance-loving bee named Elton. Will Agnes pass the test and become a full SPEARS agent? Species in danger? Girl and shrew to the rescue!

Twitch by MG Leonard

Twitch has three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for birdwatching. On the first day of the summer holidays, he arrives at his secret hide to find police everywhere: a convicted robber has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Can Twitch use his talents for birdwatching to hunt for the dangerous prisoner and find the missing loot?

And for non-fiction lovers, Wild Child by Dara McNulty

Join brilliant young naturalist Dara McAnulty – winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize for his book Diary of a Young Naturalist – on a nature walk and experience the joy of connecting with the natural world on your multi sensory journey. This beautiful book, illustrated in full colour by Barry Falls, is divided into five sections: looking out of the window, venturing out into the garden, walking in the woods, investigating heathland and wandering on the river bank. Dara pauses to tell you about each habitat and provides fantastic facts about the native birds, animals and plants you will find there – including wrens, blackbirds, butterflies, tadpoles, bluebells, bees, hen harriers, otters, dandelions, oak trees and many more.

Each section contains a discovery section where you will have a closer look at natural phenomenon such as metamorphoses and migration, learn about categorization in the animal kingdom or become an expert on the collective nouns for birds. Each section finishes with an activity to do when you get home: plant wild flowers, make a bird feeder, try pond dipping, make a journey stick and build a terrarium.

Dara ends the book with advice for young conservationists, which he is fully qualified to do being the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB medal for conservation.

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Books About Football!

The Euros are well underway, and I’m sure you are as excited as I am that England have made it to the group of 16! Here’s hoping that “Football’s coming home!” doesn’t just mean we are playing our games at Wembley…

This week’s books all celebrate the beautiful game. There are some fabulous non fiction books from Simon Mugford and Dan Green – the Football Superstars Series, featuring many well loved players including Aguero, Pogba, Rashford and Sterling, and coming out this summer is the Football Quizzes Rule which will really test your knowledge about your favourite clubs and players.

Fantastic Footballers: 40 Inspiring Icons by Jean-Michel Billioud and Almasty celebrates great footballers throughout history from Stanley Matthews to David Beckham and Pele to Neymar. Featuring stats, honours and and the greatest goals of all time, you can learn how these players became the best in the world.

There are some great stories out there about football too. Whether it’s Frank Lampard’s Frankie’s Magic Football series, or Tom Palmer’s Football Academy or Foul Play series there really is something for everyone.

Some of my favourite fiction books are Cyborg Cat: Rise Of The Parson’s Road Gang by Ade Adepitan. Previously shortlisted for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards, this charts Ade’s arrival in the UK and shines a light on the discipline and perseverance he showed to overcome his fears. It’s a story about standing out, settling in and stepping up from an inspirational Paralympian.

The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley celebrates football’s ability to bring children together to work as a team. This hilarious book charts Noah’s determination to play in the School’s World Cup, despite being banned from playing for his school team (for something he definitely didn’t do). Great illustrations are dotted through the book, and the player profiles between chapters are a great addition. Packed with humour, emotion, friendship, football and a great ending!

Kick by Mitch Johnson looks at football from a completely different angle. Budi’s plan is simple. He’s going to be a star. Budi’s going to play for the greatest team on earth, instead of sweating over each stitch he sews, each football boot he makes. But one unlucky kick brings Budi’s world crashing down. Now he owes the Dragon, the most dangerous man in Jakarta. Soon it isn’t only Budi’s dreams at stake, but his life. A fast-paced, adrenaline fuelled, action packed story with a conscience. From the very first page until the last, we are immersed into the slums of Jakarta, where dreaming big, hope and heroes, and never letting anything stand in your way keep the difficulties of day to day life at bay where dreaming big, hope and heroes, and never letting anything stand in your way.

And, Eve Ainsworth has brought the first female league to life in her series about the Dick, Kerr Girls. The Perfect Shot is the second book in the series.  As the girls embark on their first domestic and international tour against the French Ladies team, Freddie finds he is on a journey of his own, facing up to his mistakes and taking a step to correct them. Can he learn from the vital lesson that the Dick, Kerr Girls have to offer? That team work, communication and friendship can overcome just about anything.

The series also has the companion Dick, Kerr Ladies: Football’s Forgotten Legends by Gail Newsham. Lace up your boots and get ready for kick-off – it’s time discover the true story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team, courageous pioneers of women’s football in the UK. From the founding of the team in World War One to the eventual ban of the women’s game by the FA, join the team in their journey to the top of the league. Written by a world authority on the Dick, Kerr Ladies, and featuring original artefacts, and history of the game, this Companion Guide is a must for any football fan. Gail is a former footballer and lives in Preston. She’s 100% dedicated to bringing this remarkable story to younger readers. The Dick, Kerr Ladies: the greatest sporting heroes you’ve never heard of.

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