Spring Bonus reviews 3 :: NEWS
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Spring Bonus reviews 3

14 March 2017 Share

In the final Spring bonus we have extra reviews for 12-16, older readers of 16+, Poetry lovers and professionals! Again some great books here. Anderson, Tom.

In the final Spring bonus we have extra reviews for 12-16, older readers of 16+, Poetry lovers and professionals! Again some great books here.

Anderson, Tom. Luca Son of the Morning. Accent Press, 2016,pp300, £7.99. 978 1 78375 794 7

Billed on the cover as a book for John Green and Neil Gaiman lovers, this YA novel combines real-life issues with ghosts and fantastical sea-travel between a little beach in Wales, Cartagena, Tokyo, and the Congo. The first part introduces the titular Luca – a boy set apart from his peers by his taste in music and his disrupted homelife. He does daily battle with his headteacher Mr Kleener who is always waiting at the gates: ‘attendance, attendance, attendance!’, and the school bullies led by Joe Poundes. Even Gaby, his best friend outside school, declares he must not speak to her within school walls thanks to her social rules. When she bursts into tears during form time, Luca tries to help but is rebuffed. To make sense of his confusing world, he often wakes late at night and sneaks out to the nearby beach, where he encounters a group of dead men rising from the sea.

Part II is where it all starts to get a bit strange: Luca follows them into the sea and finds himself in Cartagena, met by a boy named Alejo – a street performer whose father has gone missing. He asks for Luca’s help to speak to the policemen to see if they can locate him. Meanwhile, back home, Luca’s dad tries to get him to ‘join the family business’ which involves skipping school to go to a jewel market in Birmingham, and getting involved in shady deals for gold. Luca will travel around the globe meeting other children whose family businesses cause them concern, helping him to make sense of his own life and encouraging him to do something about it. A likeable hero and an unusual storyline make for an intriguing read that teenagers will identify with.  

Ciara Murray

Boecker, Virginia. King Slayer.Orchard, 2016, pp400, £7.99. 978 1 40833 584 0     

This tense young adult fantasy set in a medieval landscape begins with Elizabeth Grey, former witch hunter, on trial having switched allegiance and now on the side of the magical forces she originally hunted. She has sought refuge within the witch and wizard community and wishes to help them overthrow the evil Lord Blackwell, black magician and usurper king of Anglia, whom she formerly served. Previously the holder of a stigma which made her invincible Elizabeth has bestowed this protection upon her sweetheart John in order to save his life and so she is now vulnerable to attack.  There is much mistrust as to her motives and she struggles to prove her worth and her loyalty whilst Blackwell’s campaign for absolute power continues. He also seeks Elizabeth and will stop at nothing to retrieve her. Meanwhile John appears to be possessed by the dark side of the stigma’s powers and is in danger of being consumed by them. The arrival of Elizabeth’s former abuser and dethroned monarch Malcolm to fight on their side adds an unsettling element to the plot. But war is coming, the forces of good and evil now seem blurred but all are mustering for the violent battle ahead. Elizabeth and John need to be ready to sacrifice all if need be. Readers will need to have read Witch Hunter the first book in this duology to better appreciate how the mixture of graphic action and romantic story strands have developed.

Sue Polchow

Bond, Gwenda. Double Down (Lois Lane)Curious Fox, 2016, pp384, £6.99. 978 1 78202 369 2       

Bond is really getting into her stride with the Lois Lane saga with this second title in the series. Fans of Fallout will find echoes in this new story, which takes place only weeks after our first encounter.  Lois is now beginning to feel at home in Metropolis and is to realise that she has already earned the respect and friendship of the team of teenage reporters she has joined.

There are two stories in one here. Smallville Guy (the reader knows this is Superman) and Lois (AKA Skepticgirl) are concerned about postings on the Strangeskies website,  which seem to be intent on drawing out stories of a ‘flying man’. Sinister agencies are suspected or is it federal investigators?

While this is happening, Lois’ immediate attention is drawn to the plight of Melody, her friend Maddy’s twin sister.  Melody is exhibiting strange behaviour. Usually a calm and confident teen Melody seems to be prone to collapse and feels that she has been taken over by an unknown man and is seeing the world through his eyes.  She later confesses that she took part in a drug experiment in order to fund a trip to a concert. Lois investigates the Doctor who has set this up with the help of the local mobster (The Boss).  It appears that the experiment was designed in part to discredit the Mayor and ensure a corrupt politician takes his place.

Once again the plot races along with a graphic speed.  More mature readers could find the way that Lois plans always succeed not a little unrealistic.  However, given the heritage of comic heroes this will doubtless be forgiven by fans.  For those who are already hooked, Amazon is advertising that the third book in the series will follow in January 2017.

Lin Smith                 

Brignull, Irena. The Hawkweed Prophecy. Orchard, 2016, pp432, £7.99. 978140834704             

Two girls are swapped at birth. Both grow up isolated and lonely, hundreds of miles from each other. Both are misfits. Poppy’s mother never totally accepts her, and becomes steadily more depressed and mentally unstable. Poppy herself is unable to make friends and is expelled from school after school as one misadventure follows another. Fires start when she is angry. A plague of rats appears. She is the despair of her father, who eventually moves with her far from home. Ember struggles in quite different ways. Brought up in a coven of witches, she alone fails at magic, but as the daughter of one of the Hawkweed sisters she should be capable of far more. A three hundred year old prophecy foretells that the daughter of one of the sisters will become queen of the witches.

Then Ember and Poppy meet, and both their lives start to change. For the first time, Ember discovers the modern world. Poppy learns about witchcraft. They find friendship, something new to both of them. And both of them fall in love with the same young man. Meanwhile a mightier struggle emerges. Dark forces are unleashed as the old queen comes to the end of her life. There is an epic battle between witch clans.

Brignull’s debut novel has the feel of a dark fairy tale, with touches of magic realism. While its length (over four hundred pages) and the romance element may be off-putting to some readers, this will appeal to lots of lovers of fantasy fiction. A sequel is due out in 2017.

Anne Harding

David, Keren. Cuckoo. Atom, 2016, pp272, £6.99. 9780349002354              

David’s novel about an ex child soap star in a state of limbo is promising and daringly experimental but ultimately, for this reader, a bit disappointing. Jake aka Riley, who was at the forefront of hard hitting storylines on ‘Market Street’, has been ruthlessly jettisoned from scripts (sent to his bedroom) and is struggling to cope with the fallout. The soap’s decision is detrimental for his family who are under unbearable financial pressure. Jake’s brother Adam is autistic and his father is suffering from depression. When Jake learns that the money he earned has gone, the tense atmosphere leads him to move out and depend on the kindness of friends making him the ‘cuckoo’ of the title.

What is surprising about the book is that the author adopts a self-referential slant. Readers are introduced to Jake’s story in the style of a shooting script for an apologist web docudrama which he is making to explain to fans about his situation. It flashes back and forward through pivotal events interpolating film directions and inane comments from viewers. This technique deflates the build-up of tension.

Some ex actors from ‘Market Street’ also play a cast of key characters from Jake’s own life who in turn occasionally comment on the representation of themselves. The result is a melange of observations on the volatile nature of soaps, the problem of type casting, the art of acting, Alzheimer’s, homelessness, homosexuality, autism and the perils of social media. While the book does make a brave attempt to highlight awareness of important issues, regretfully it doesn’t explore them sufficiently. Some sections, such as Jake’s growing appreciation of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and his relationship with Marguerite, who is trapped in the past, are stronger than others. Cuckoo has merit as a story but it would have been a grittier novel if it had focused exclusively on some of the social concerns it fleetingly addresses like homelessness and the transient nature of fame. 

Tanya Jennings

Prentice, Andrew and Weil, Jonathan. Devil's Blood (The Books of Pandemonium)David Fickling Books,2016, pp288, £7.99. 978 1 910200 57 5             

In this sequel to The Black Arts, Prentice and Weil’s first book, the tale continues with Jack as the main character but the time has cleverly switched to a different century.However, the Devils are back and both they and Jack, thanks to his outlandish plans, continue to wreak havoc in London.

Although the beginning of the story is slow, it sets the scene for a great and complex adventure. The villain of the piece does not become apparent until the story is well underway.

A brilliant fantasy story with good use of humour but it does contain some horror and romance!

Will there be another book in The Books of Pandemonium series, the authors have left it open?

Janet Clarke

Ryan, Chris. Endgame (Agent 21)Red Fox, 2016, pp368, £6.99978 1 849 41012 0   

Another exciting story from Chris Ryan featuring Zak Darke, in the Agent 21 series in which our young spy finds himself inadvertently involved in all sorts of mayhem and some very challenging situations.

It begins badly enough when his handlers, Gabs and Raf are abducted and then to make matters even worse his mentor Michael is shot right in front of him. Whoever has perpetrated these deeds has made sure the Zak is well and truly in the frame. He teems up with Agent 22, Rickey, who is a new and inexperienced agent and he also re-unites with his computer whiz friend, Malcolm. Together they go off in search an old adversary of Zak’s, Cruz Martinez. During the course of this adventure, they have to un-ravel some demanding clues, watch some grim footage of Gabs and Raf all against a very tight time ultimatum and battle with extreme weather conditions in Alaska. Will he get to the truth and more importantly, will he survive?

The usual fast paced, thrill a minute tale that fans of Chris Ryan will love.

Janet Clarke

Smale, Holly. Sunny Side Up (Geek Girl)HarperCollins, 2016, pp224, £9.99. 978 0 00 816345 7     

Fans of Geek Girl will, of course, leap upon this latest offering with cries of delight. Harriet continues to bump, trip and spill her way through the fashion world with (un)predictable results. Those unfamiliar with the whirl of fabric and friendship that surrounds Miss Manners will not be at a loss, however, as Sunny Side Up holds its own as a stand-alone read.

Harriet is on her way to Paris Fashion week, with Wilbur at her side – initially, at least. She is still nursing a broken heart from when...er...she broke Nick’s heart (long story cleverly encapsulated for novices), and as a result spends rather a lot of time looking for/avoiding her ex.

Holly Smale packs a lot into this compact book, managing to entertain and inform as well as driving her character forward ready for the next instalment. Harriet is lovely, conforming to the stunningly-beautiful-but-doesn’t-believe-it trope while maintaining a personality and individuality which is genuinely endearing. Her parents pay attention and actually parent in a way that readers will recognise, and her spell in the Metro, going round in circles and getting thoroughly lost and panicked, was familiar enough that I broke out in a cold sweat.

Ms Smale’s first-hand experience of this world brings the shine of authenticity to this lively read. I can’t see this spending a lot of time sitting on the shelves!

Helen Thompson

Various (edited by Stephanie Perkins). Summer Days, Summer Nights. Macmillan, 2016, pp400, £10.99. 9781509809899               

First of all, what a well-produced book! I’m a sucker for ribbon bookmarks, maybe because I’m always losing bookmarks, or maybe because as a librarian I know they reduce the risk of finding rashers of bacon between the pages – either way, I warmed immediately to this collection of 12 summer romances as soon as I noticed the little pink marker. Bound in summer-sky-blue with a dazzling sunburst on the cover, this looks like a cheerful addition to anyone’s shelf.

But let’s stop there. This is not a book of slushy sweetie lovey-dovey dew eyed tales. I’m a big fan of short stories, and these epitomise all that is to be admired of this format. Each story is a perfect little world, full of engaging characters and plot. Genres range from horror to science fiction, and not one is predictable or weak. The writers are all well-known and will draw fans of their longer works, thus introducing readers to the other writers in the collection. Ms Perkins has achieved the almost-impossible in gathering a diverse yet linked collection that works beautifully together. I would struggle to pick a favourite from such a robust collection, but Cinegore will be hard to forget; but then so will Inertia, and The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is just so lovely......

I shall be seeking out the earlier collection of Winter Romances. I may have been converted to romance!

Helen Thompson

Information Books

Beights, Greyson. Medieval Lego. No-Starch Press, 2015, pp132, £9.99. 978 1 59327 650 8             

Medieval Lego brings together two of my life-long interests: Lego and History. This book works on a number of levels – one if you just want to look at brilliant Lego dioramas from important events in British medieval history then this book is brilliant – so good in fact that it has sparked several arguments between students in the library as to who should hold it, read it next or be able to borrow it. Fortunately the Lego fan club at my school is very good-natured so they resolved it amongst themselves without resorting to appealing to the highest power in the Library (me).

Secondly the information within this book has been compiled by eminent scholars and professors from across the world and is of unimpeachable quality. It is also written in such a way as to include reluctant readers and has enough information to satisfy the most enquiring of young minds.

I recommend Medieval Lego for libraries needing an introductory text to the British Medieval period and also to help inspire would-be Lego Master Builders!

Matt Imrie

Brown,Carl. Open Combat: Rules for Fighting Miniature Battles. Second Thunder,2016, pp100 

978 0 9933785 0 8

For many years the tabletop gaming world has been dominated by one huge multi-tentacled organisation ruthlessly crushing their opposition with their mighty Warhammers.

Indeed a whole generation has grown up ignorant of the rich and varied history of tabletop gaming, seeing only the behemoth in schools, libraries and on the high street. I admit to being a fan of the futuristic games and publishing arm of this company that I shall not name, but will admit that the hobby pieces are not cheap.

Open Combat is an independently developed tabletop gaming system that will enable beginners and faming aficionados to create their own campaigns both historical and fantasy-based without having to know a massive back-story or relying on the imaginations of others.

 Matt Imrie

Croft,Malcolm. Cool Mythology-Filled with Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages. Portico, 2016,pp112, £9.99. 978 1 910232 84 2                        

This book is an antidote to the classification of myths into geographical areas: it takes a theme, for example the creation myth, and compares it across different mythologies. Apparently there are five types of creation myth. In the chapter deconstructing myths we have the list of the seven basic plots in myths, which is actually very useful. I would aim it at my literature and RE students but for one screaming error of judgement on the front cover: it’s ‘for kids of all ages’. No-one in school – or anywhere else-likes to be a ‘kid’ unless maybe you are under five years old.

 Other pages look at epic battles (Greek, Hindu, Chinese history, Celtic) different weapons (Thor’s hammer, Excalibur, Achilles’s shield and the trident) as well as the different countries in detail.

The big problem is that if you are going to do it this way, you do need to make sure that the book can still be used in the more traditional way. There is no index and no obvious way of tracking down all the myths from a geographical area – for example Ancient Greece or Rome- which is what most pupils this book is aimed at are actually looking for. The small landscape format is clearly to encourage readers to flick through and the ‘mythbuster’ and ‘mythquotes’ boxes are entertaining, but as a book to use for one particular culture it is frustrating.

Rachel Ayers Nelson

Spilsbury,Louise.The Vikings (Edge Books: History Hunters)Raintree, 2016, pp32, £12.99

978 1 4747 2687 0                             

The Contents page shows the influence  of the Horrible History series. Gruesome gods and lucky charms are followed by Fiery funerals and scary sacrifices and these by Powerful kings and suffering slaves and by Viking jewellery and scratchy tunics. Underneath (and belying) this whimsicality, the book is packed with information. Clothes were dyed with woad, weld and madder. Families played hnefatafl. A well-dressed Viking man wore a pair of woollen baggy trousers.

It is attractively presented, and would catch the eye of any library browser including those reluctant secondary readers it is aimed at. Every page is a kaleidoscope of colour, and there are illustrations of Viking ships, helmets and swords, and even a picture of Harold Finehair reproduced from a mediaeval manuscript. But the sheer number of facts is overwhelming. An avid collector of facts will no doubt revel in the book, but I suspect that for many the overall effect, notwithstanding the exciting layout, will be a kind of aridity. The Vikings settled in an area they named Vinland. However, they gave up and eventually abandoned this new territory.  And that is the end of that story. The illustrations could make this a useful sourcebook for those who already know a lot about the Vikings, but I suspect it will have limitations as an introduction to the topic. 

Martin Axford

 

16+ Older readers

Laure,Eve. The Graces. Faber & Faber, 2016, pp432, £7.99. 978 0 571 326808        

Part French, part British, part Greek, this author grew up in Cornwall amid its cultural traditions of myth and fantasy. That background has fed into her novel, which features witchcraft and sundry, other magical / supernatural elements. An object is found in a garden, for example, which is identified as ‘fox heart’ and which, could, it was believed; cast all manner of evil spells. Birthday parties recur ominously through the narrative. The characters are currently in their mid-teens, but a flashback tells how a small boy becomes mysteriously ill at a children’s party. This proves to be a forerunner to a similar event several years later with even more serious consequences.

The story is told in the first person by the main character, River, - most of the characters have outlandish names – and moves forward at a cracking pace and, although the book runs to over 400 pages, interest in the narrative never flags. The writing is of good quality. So what is there not to like? There is undoubtedly pleasure and enjoyment for the reader, but one wonders if we should not be providing for our 15 – 17 year olds material that is more challenging, more nourishing to the mind and more likely to advance literary taste.

Elizabeth Finlayson

Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Mist and Fury. Bloomsbury,2016, pp640, £7.99. 978 1 4088 57885           

This is the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses in a new fantasy series by the New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Mass. Feyre has survived tumultuous ordeals to rescue her lover Tamlin the High Lord of the Spring Court in book one. She is killed and reborn with all of powers of a High Fae but her human heart remains. A Court of Mist and Fury continues her story. Feyre’s passion for Tamlin wanes when he tries to protect her by keeping her a virtual prisoner in his house. The enigmatic High Lord of the Night Court Rhysand is a magnetic personality with whom she shares a special connection which gradually evolves.

This epic novel spans adventures and personalities inside and outside the Faerie World. Ties of family and friendship, romance, and lots of sex abound in pacey page-tuner which will leave readers keen to read the next book. Maas has a special gift for developing strong women characters. They support one another and expect the men in their lives to acknowledge and appreciate their talents. Fans will be delighted to learn that it has recently been announced that four more books, two novellas (and a colouring book)are planned for the series in the future

 Rosemary Woodman

Talley, Robin. What We Left Behind. Mira Ink, 2015, pp416, £7.99. 978 1848453913

Fresh from Carnegie shortlisted and Amnesty honoured success with the powerful and enduring The Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley has produced another thought provoking novel.  It examines the concept of gender identity and revolves around a lesbian couple, Toni and Gretchen, who are facing life changing decisions. Talley juxtaposes the girls’ first person flashback accounts of instantaneous attraction at the Homecoming dance and their courtship in junior high school with agonised soul searching as they move on to the next stage of their lives and make conflicting choices about their future. 

In the accepting world of Harvard Toni discovers her individuality.  She feels an affinity towards the male end of the gender spectrum which is cemented by her membership of an Undergraduate LGBTQIA association. Immediately she is taken under the wing of a ‘gender queer’ group led by the charismatic Derek who is transitioning. Meanwhile, a bewildered Gretchen, used to Toni being the trailblazer and gay rights’ crusader in their relationship, starts NYU and attempts to make new friends. She falls into the orbit of homosexual Carroll who becomes her best friend but what are his motives? Does he really care about her? The big question is can Toni and Gretchen’s love endure or are they growing further apart?

Talley investigates a topical issue for teens today as the girls and their friends explore their sexuality and uniqueness over 405 pages but unfortunately the book lacks bite. While it is educational it fails to engage. A great part of the novel deals with Toni’s absorption in how she wants to be addressed. She is cisgender and lesbian but does she want to become transgender? Does she want to be called ‘gender queer’, ‘non binary’, ‘gender fluid’ or ‘gender variant’? What about ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ or maybe she should be gender neutral and use ‘ze’ and ‘zir’? Toni is confused (which is reflected in the art on the book’s cover, its letters consisting of divergent gender symbols). Unfortunately the result is the reader wading through a protracted and overwrought discussion of pronouns and gender labelling without a glossary. This is so belaboured that it diminishes the dramatic tension evident in some scenes like her confrontation with her prejudiced mother.

At times Toni is unlikeable because of her egocentric attitude. Conversely, Gretchen is the sympathetic character as she is placed in the paradox of identifying as a lesbian while being in a relationship with a girl who is in a quandary about whether to become a man. While the novel has some merit and will involve readers who can identify with its diverse dilemmas, ultimately it could have had a stronger story arc. It’s disappointing that a book with such a relevant message in today’s society verges on the didactic. Consequently it doesn’t offer the reader an emotional or an exciting journey, opting for a verbose discourse on gender politics instead of a compelling plot.

Tanya Jennings

Poetry

Dean, Pixie. A Book of Children's Rhymes. Matador, 2016, pp113, £7.99. 978 1 78462 507 8          

It is unfortunate, in my mind anyway, that any such collection of rhymes will always be sub-consciously compared to Roald Dahl – and there is only ever going to be one winner in that contest. This book of rhymes, limericks and verse has a whimsical flavour and is accompanied by some bold and imaginative illustrations. Perhaps rather too many of the rhymes are contrived but perhaps that will not worry younger readers.

Robin Barlow

Donovan, Katie. Off Duty. Bloodaxe Books, 2016, pp96, £9.95 978 1 78037 316 4 

This is a very powerful and moving collection of poems which can be read as a narrative.  It opens with a group of poems on the subject of children.  The opening poem sees the poet tucking her two year old daughter up at night, exuding pleasure  and love: ‘ I tickle and trip, revelling/ in her giggly mouth’s cascade, /her nuzzling joy,/ a gift this bed bestows’ and this feeling of the wonder of motherhood continues in the next, on the subject of weaning, seeing ‘the little hand, resting possessively/on the industrious breast,/as it pumps the best nectar in town’ and ‘the gratifying feeling/of good work going on quietly/all the better when I don’t even try’.   This honesty and the exact capturing of powerful emotions continues as the collection reaches the event which forms its centre:  the appalling illness, decline and death of the poet’s husband from throat cancer.  The tone of many of the poems is angry:  she lies in bed next to the man reflecting on ‘how I have feasted/on your brown neck ruffled with curls,/the length of your muscled frame’ but how, now, she is ‘grumpily aware/of the buzz of your snore/the taint of your night breath’.   Astonishingly, she writes about the ways in which she would respond to her husband when ‘anger rides my fat lip, goading it/to spit the rough words you hate’, and her resentment at having to curb her ‘vitriol’ since, because he is ill, ‘you’re spared the trip’.  While her husband declines, she is the partner who is ‘still well’, ‘watching over the children, the house, her work’ while her husband will ‘go for two months to treat his illness – chemo in Germany’:  ‘She looks forward to his leaving,/at least it will end the sham/of his being here but not’.  The poet writes about the effect of her husband’s illness on the children, the son asking ‘When I die/and I go down the tunnel/will you be there, Mum, in that room, waiting for me’, the daughter horrified by her father’s appearance: ‘Until Dad’s lips are normal, she decrees,/I don’t want to see him in hospital’, while conversations with visiting tradesmen and others – an electrician, a taxi driver, a Dyno-Rod man – offer interpolations from the outside world, and moments which alleviate the ordeal are grasped eagerly.  The account of death and its aftermath for those left – ‘the difference between dead/and gone is a dark hustle/of days passing’ - are recounted with the same blistering honesty which makes this collection so compelling.  There is even an ambivalence expressed in widowhood – ‘I spend a lot of time/with a smile/stretched across the chasm of my face’ – as is reflected in the title poem:  ‘I pass the funeral parlour/where four weeks ago/the ceremony unfurled./Now, I’m laughing with my children’.   The exact capturing of powerful and often contradictory emotions, thoughts and responses in language this vivid is extraordinarily affecting:  a chronicle of almost impossible times, ‘both a searing tragedy and a chainlink of domestic chores’.  

Frank Startup

Professional

Smith, Chris,Guillain, Adam and Noonan,Nanette. History Through Stories-Teaching Primary History With Storytelling (Storytelling Schools) Illustrated by Shirin Adl. Hawthorn Press, 2016, pp288, £40. 9781907359446      

This is the fourth volume in the Storytelling Schools series. The Storytelling Schools approach to teaching involves telling stories from memory as a strategy for learning both language and topic content. It combines storytelling, drama and creative writing in a systematic way across the curriculum. There are over one hundred Storytelling Schools in England.

There are thirty-seven units in this book, working chronologically from 10,000 BC to man landing on the moon. Each unit contains up to three stories, all specially written for this book, either using fictional characters to inhabit the historical landscape within the story, or using real historical figures and imagining the details. As an example, the unit on World War One contains a story told by a grandfather to his grand-daughter about fighting in the Battle of the Somme and a story by a fictional character playing in the football match in the unofficial truce of Christmas 1914. There are suggested links to other curriculum areas: war poetry, identifying countries taking part in the war and wartime songs for example. There are then history related activities, including trying to answer the question ‘How did World War One start?’ As this has been debated by historians for over a hundred years it may be rather simplistic to suggest splitting a class into the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente to research the countries and decide on the answer. However, there are generally some good ideas here even if one does not fully subscribe to the Storytelling Schools philosophy.

Robin Barlow

McDonald, Avril. Feel Brave Teaching Guide (Feel Brave Books) Illustrated by Tatiana Minina.Crown House Publishing, 2016, pp64, £24.99. 978 1785830167    

With the importance of PSHE and the need to discuss feelings and other matters relevant to all children comes this excellently well produced teachers’ book. It details an approach to teaching PSHE through stories in five accompanying sympathetically illustrated children’s books. The themes covered in the stories include loss of a loved one (The Grand Wolf), how to deal with people who are unkind(The Wolf’s Colourful Coat), worries (The Wolf and the Baby Dragon), fears (The Wolf and the Shadow Monster), and being left out (The Wolf is Not Invited). The text of each story is included in the teachers’ book, as is a CD which has everything too, including emotions cards and yoga pose cards. Links are made to other curricular areas such as Religion, DT and Science with plentiful suggestions for activities. All in all, an excellent resource for the KS1 classroom, and also for EYFS.

Rudolph Loewenstein

Potter, Molly. Tutor Time (100 ideas for secondary teachers)Bloomsbury Education, 2016, pp121, £12.99. 9781472925022               

I am sure many teachers will welcome this addition to the series.  Written by an experienced teacher and education advisor, Molly Potter has created an essential resource for time-pressed form tutors, (a role often filled by school librarians too).  The book is packed with accessible and easy to use ideas that require little preparation and activities that will engage pupils fully.

The book is divided into nine different sections starting with the basic routines and procedures such as ensuring the pupils know what is expected of them during tutor time, dealing with lateness and uniform issues, so it is a good introduction for new tutors.  Other sections are on pastoral care, tutor group bonding, learning techniques, PSHE activities for teenagers, developing opinions, creative thinking, becoming media savvy, and improving general knowledge.  Within each section are a number of ideas (one per page), each having a catchy title, an opening quote, a summary of the idea in bold, and a step-by-step guide to implementing the idea.  There are also teaching tips and advice on how to take the idea further, as well as suggestions on how to get parents involved in their children’s learning.

Overall, this looks an excellent source of inspiring ideas for all teachers and one which will help build strong relationships with pupils, supporting them in their schoolwork and with social and personal issues in the sometimes difficult teenage years.

Deborah Mason