SLA's Friday Favourites (15/04) :: NEWS

SLA's Friday Favourites (15/04)

15 April 2022 Share

Reading recommendations we think you'll love.

Title: The Light in Everything

Author: Katya Balen 

Illustrator: Sydney Smith

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 14th April 2022

ISBN: 9781526622990

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Zofia was born in a storm, and has lived her life as a storm, crashing around through everything. She loves the sea and is determined to show her Dad she can swim to an outcrop of rocks off the beach below their cottage.

Tom, however, is cowed from an abusive father and having to leave home in secret to avoid further domestic abuse of his Mum.

When their lives come together, how can such opposites co-exist when they have nothing in common?


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

This is a remarkable book for its beautiful, poetic writing. It brought the tears to my eyes as Zofia’s frustration was destroying her own life with Tom too scared to intervene. Zofia has to realise herself, but it’s a difficult lesson.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

Some authors have a gift for not just a great story, but for writing which stays with you long after you have finished the book. With Katya's October, October it did, but with this book I absolutely loved the way with words of the author. Unfortunately as it was an e-book proof I couldn't appreciate the wonderful Sydney Smith's illustrations, but the cover looks amazing.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

This book could be any child who finds themselves in this position - hurt and resistant yet longing to be understood.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

As an example of ways with words, especially for KS3 students, this book is ideal. They would also love the story as taking chunks to demonstrate 'ambitious' vocabulary is not doing this book justice.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Katya Balen is co-director of Mainspring Arts, a not-for-profit that supports neurodivergent and autistic people to access creative opportunities. She studied English at university, and completed an MA researching the impact of stories on autistic children’s behaviour. When she’s not writing books or funding applications, she’s busy trying to coax her ridiculous rescue dog to go for a walk. She lives in Reading with the aforementioned dog and her partner, an NHS psychiatrist.

Follow her on Twitter.


MEET THE ILLUSTRATOR

Sydney Smith is a children's book illustrator. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with his wife and two sons.

Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Available here


Title: Coming Up For Air

Author: Lou Abercrombie

Publisher: Little Tiger

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 14th April 2022

ISBN: 9781788953184

Reviewer: Hannah Groves




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

This coming-of-age novel tells the story of Coco James, a determined, resourceful and somewhat eccentric 15-year-old with an intense passion for filmmaking. When she is forced to move from the hustle and bustle of London back to the small, seaside town where her mum grew up, she’s excited to make new friends and discover more about the family her mum has always kept hidden from her. Instead, she is met with a resentful community and a history that threatens to repeat itself.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Coco makes for a bubbly and realistic narrator, and I sympathised with her desire to finally find a sense of belonging in what has otherwise been a fairly tumultuous life. It was particularly difficult to see her so often having to assume the role of parent and longing for the stable, warm family dynamic she sees elsewhere that so many of us will often take for granted. Her struggle to make friends was relatable, especially in those challenging teenage years, but it was encouraging to see how people can eventually be brought together through a sense of adventure.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

Coco is a strong character who reminds us that, with a little determination, it's possible to flower in the face of adversity so you should never stop being yourself.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

As well as providing some summer escapism with its seaside setting, this read also dives deeper to explore complex family dynamics, feelings of anxiety and the challenges to forming teenage friendships that Coco encounters as she struggles to find her feet. 

It’s a narrative bursting with adventure, and younger YA readers in particular will likely enjoy accompanying Coco in her antics on sand and sea as she attempts to bring the town together, form friendships and finally find a place where she belongs.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

It's a perfect summer holiday read that teaches a lot about the sea, its inhabitants, and the art of freediving. As well as being informative, it could be used in a PSHE content to explore prejudice and how we treat others.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Lou Abercrombie left Durham University with a First Class Maths degree before getting a job in television in London. She later moved to Bath, where she now lives with her children and husband. Her novels are often inspired by her love of wild swimming.

Visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


Available here