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SLA's Friday Favourites (04/06)

04 June 2021 Share

Reading recommendations we think you'll love.

Title: Everything I Thought I Knew

Author: Shannon Takaoka

Publisher: Walker

Age: 13-16

Publication date: 3rd June 2021

ISBN: 9781406395365

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Chloe has everything mapped out - a revision schedule to graduate before going to a good university as she has worked hard to achieve good grades. But while out for her usual run with her best friend she starts to feel unwell. The next thing she knows, she is waking up in hospital with two very concerned parents. Her life is upended and plans temporarily suspended.

Chloe is lucky as planned surgery which could have taken some time to happen is suddenly thrust upon her, so afterwards all Chloe has to do is get her life back on track. But is it as easy as that?

A life changing condition can take some time to process and this includes reassessing priorities. Something Chloe had never given thought to before becomes very important to her. And while her friends leave her behind as they get on with their own lives, Chloe finds new friends and interests.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I didn’t see the twist coming and if told about it beforehand would have dismissed this as impossible, but I was so immersed in Chloe’s life that incredulity was suspended.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

Every chapter finishes with a lot of white space allowing the reader to digest what has just happened. So when the bombshell drops this white space and thinking time is even more important. Because what has just happened is impossible.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

As a book to assess priorities in life, this makes you think, even if you haven’t faced exactly what Chloe has. But in the last 12 months, who hasn’t reassessed their priorities?


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

This book would be good to use in a debate. Can feelings, backed up by fact, outweigh science which says this is impossible?


MEET THE AUTHOR

Shannon Takaoka is a young adult fiction author who's especially into all things gothic, weird and nerdy. If a story involves time travel, strange science-y stuff or alternate realities, she’s in.      

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Shannon now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two children and one very needy dog.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here


Title: Tremendous Things

Author: Susin Nielsen

Publisher: Andersen Press

Age: 13-16

Publication date: 3rd June 2021

ISBN: 9781839130618

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Wilbur had started school as a five year old and lasted a few weeks. Since then he was homeschooled by his two Mums. But moving across country, this is a new start in a new school as he approaches his teens. But an incident on the first day resulted in the next few years of his life being bullied and subsequently destroying his self esteem. He does have a best friend - one who is 85 years old, and his only other friend his own age has found himself a new boyfriend and rarely sees Wilbur anymore. A French exchange programme pairs Wilbur with Charlie. But Charlie is short for Charlotte and Wilbur falls in love. His rival is his long term bully - slimmer and more attractive looking than Wilbur.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

The good guys really do come out trumps, and what looks attractive on the outside, doesn't always go through to the core which is what matters.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

This is a great, feel-good book with lots of humour and a wealth of great characters. The importance of being kind shines through.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

Although there are some very important life lessons, these are given in an enjoyable, lightweight read where identifying with the caring characters is easy.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

Amongst the important life lessons, this could be used as an LGBTQ+ read as there are LGBTQ+ characters in this book which are 'just there' as part of life's rich tapestry and the story does not centre around them as 'an issue', which makes it so natural.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Susin Nielsen got her start writing for popular television series, Degrassi Junior High. Since then, she’s written for many Canadian TV shows and her young adult novels have received considerable critical acclaim, including being longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Susin lives in Vancouver with her family and two extremely destructive cats.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here


Title: The Small Things

Author: Lisa Thompson

Illustrator: Hannah Coulson

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 3rd June 2021

ISBN: 9781781129647

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Anna's class is expecting someone new to join them and Anna is asked to make her feel at home. But Ellie is not well and attends school remotely using a robot.

Anna can't understand why she has been chosen as her family is not well off and she doesn't do the range of out of school activities her friends do. So when Ellie asks her what she will be doing over the weekend, Anna tells a little white lie. But then later finds herself embellishing this until much of what she tells Ellie is wishful thinking. But when her other friends want to become involved and she meets Ellie in person, the truth is bound to come out.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Telling the truth is always the best path as any lies will be found out and life gets complicated when you have to remember what you've embroidered.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

As we discovered during the lockdowns, sometimes it is the small things in life which are important and people rather than tangible objects or activities mean more than a smokescreen to seemingly make us look good.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

The use of the remote robot is a real life facility available now to children unable to attend school for various reasons and not a scifi idea for the future.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

A title to focus on what is important and able to be accessed by readers of all abilities.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Lisa Thompson is a children's novelist born in Essex, UK whose bestselling books are published all around the world. Before becoming a novelist, Lisa worked as a broadcast assistant for BBC Radio 2 and CPL Productions where she got to make tea for lots of famous people. She lives in Suffolk, UK with her family.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here


Title: Maria's Island

Author: Victoria Hislop

Illustrator: Gill Smith

Publisher: Walker

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 3rd June 2021

ISBN: 9781406399073

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Some time ago, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island for adults, a book about the real island of Spinalonga off the Cretan coast where suffers of Leprosy were banished as the fear of the disease was so great.

To make the story child friendly, Victoria Hislop has focused on one young girl living in Crete and told her story - a true story of both her Mother and best friend being banished and her feelings of loss, even while knowing they were alive.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Although the picture of Maria, her Father and sister watching the boat take away their Mother and Wife are dark, most illustrations feature the blue of the Cretan sea and sky and perfectly complement the text. If you don't want to visit Crete after reading this book you need to reread it!


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

The current fear of contracting Covid-19 appeared after Victoria Hislop started this younger version of The Island, so the book is of even greater significance now many more people, including children, have experienced the worry when a loved one does come into contact with the disease, often leading to death and the hurt of that loss.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

The role of the carer and nurse for those that are ill feature prominently.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

Useful for dealing with loss, bereavement and empathy.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, and worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children, and her books have now been translated into more than 30 languages.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here