SLA's Friday Favourites (17/12) :: NEWS
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SLA's Friday Favourites (17/12)

17 December 2021 Share

Reading recommendations we think you'll love.

Title: When Shadows Fall

Author: Sita Brahmachari

Illustrator: Natalie Sirett

Publisher: Little Tiger Press

Age: 13-16

Publication date: 11th November 2021

ISBN: 9781788953160

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Kai, Orla and Zak grew up together in a tower block with a small piece of green wilderness important to their childhood explorations.

When baby Sula is born, Kai’s parents are so grateful after years of disappointment, but when they suffer her loss this pushes Kai’s Dad to his limit. Without either in his life, Kai makes some bad decisions, skipping school and messing up his studying.

Om had moved into the same tower block some time before, but was unnoticed by Kai and his friends until Kai drifted away from Orla and Zak and found he relied more on Om.

Only after a devastating event was Kai’s situation recognised by his friends and family. But was it then too late?


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

It is so easy to see how young people are misled by others and how they get themselves into situations from which it is difficult to backtrack. Yet there is often a reason behind this. I wanted to comfort Kai as his parents were also suffering grief which prevented them from seeing what their living child was experiencing. Kai's blindness to his friends' feelings also resulted in misguided jealousy and made his situation worse.

The whole situation was a mess that was difficult to resolve.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

The writing in this book is lyrical, the pictures so simple yet effective. This is the best, most moving, yet difficult book I have read this year. This is grief at its most raw. Not just from losing a baby sister, but also in a father's withdrawal because of mental health problems and the consequent strain on family life.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

It's beautiful. An illustrated novel where the picture are as important as the text. Part verse, part prose. A wonderful piece of writing.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

This is one person's reaction of grief, but it is not unusual. As a reader it is easy to see that Kai needed to talk. In the situation, it wouldn't be so easy, so empathy is needed for others in similar situations.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Sita Brahmachari won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with her debut? novel and is one of the most important voices in children’s books today.?Her books have been shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and have been translated into many languages around the world. She is the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Sita lives in London with her family. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

MEET THE ILLUSTRATOR

Natalie Sirett is an internationally exhibited, multimedia artist, interested in us, our icons, our stories. Her work has often explored issues of body image culture and the growing pains of adolescence. When Shadows Fall is a project shared with Sita Brahmachari over many years. Natalie lives and works in London. Visit her website.


Available here


Title: The Perfect Parent Project

Author: Stewart Foster

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Age: 8-12

Publication date: 21st January 2021

ISBN: 9781471191268

Reviewer: Dawn Woods




WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Sam has lived his life with different foster parents and has always been moved on. He no longer trusts anyone and is afraid to become too attached to anything for fear of being moved again. He knows what he'd like - the ideal parents, and makes endless lists of his requirements, showing them to no one. But when he confesses to Leah, who has become his best friend, she suggests advertising to find that perfect family. He then puts this into practice with varying degrees of success.


HOW DID READING IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I found this heart breaking. Sam does have a list of outrageous aims, but he would also like simple things like someone to give him a hug as that is forbidden in the foster carers' handbook. He'd like to help himself to a biscuit from the biscuit tin without having to ask permission. He'd like to put up posters on a bedroom wall. All things most children take for granted.


WHAT LASTING IMPRESSION DID IT HAVE?

Written from first hand experience of living in care, this is a thought-provoking book about what is going on in a child's mind and his fear of expressing that and trusting the adults caring for him. Sam's love for his younger foster brother is beautiful and the brother is so innocent and trusting, all of which Sam has missed out on.


WHY SHOULD OTHERS READ IT?

This is a book to provoke empathy but it also includes a lot of humour. Children and adults may view it from different perspectives but both will appreciate the difficulties Sam is living through.


HOW DO YOU SEE PEOPLE USING THIS BOOK?

This must be used to look at life from others' viewpoints and increase compassion in readers. It would make a great class read for an upper KS2 class.


MEET THE AUTHOR

Stewart Foster is an adult and children's novelist, born in Bath. His books have won multiple school and library awards and are recommended by Empathy Lab and Reading Well. His first children's book, The Bubble Boy, was published in 2016, winning Sainsbury's Children's Book Award in 2016 (Age 9+) and many schools and libraries awards, as well as being nominated for The Carnegie Book Award. 

Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Available here