Barrington Stoke publish really great books. That about sums it up! If you want stories that are engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking and totally accessible, then these are for you. And written by award-winning children’s writers and illustrators to boot! Read on for my pick of their recent releases, great to engage those children and young people who aren’t avid readers – as well as brilliant quick reads for those who are.
Special Delivery by Jonathan Meres with illustrations by Hannah Coulson is a touching tale of helping others and forging friendships across the generations. Frank wants a new bike, so in order to save some money towards buying one he helps his sister with her paper round. And that’s how he meets an old lady who loves cowboys. Frank thinks she’s really cool and when he finds her in the park, a bit lost and confused, he decides to help her find home. Little does he know his kindness will be repaid and the promise of a new bike won’t seem so far away! Sensitively handling the difficult subject of dementia for younger readers, this is a heart-warming story that will bring a smile to your face.
The Unlucky Eleven by Phil Earle illustrated by Steve May introduces the hilarious antics of the Saints football team. Due to their excruciatingly poor form, the team think they are cursed and do everything they can to beat it. Unfortunately their attempts lead to more embarrassment and even injury! It’s up to Stanley to save the day and help his team-mates believe in themselves. Perfectly capturing the world of football, friendship and superstition around sports this is a great fun read for football fans young and old.
These two titles are from the Little Gems range which brings together the best children’s authors and illustrators and clever design to create super readable stories, for children aged 5-8.
The Spectacular Revenge of Suzi Sims by Vivian French illustrated by Julia Patton features a sports day drama as Suzi’s excitement about sports day is cut short. Suzi gets off on the wrong foot with Mrs Grit, a supply teacher. Mrs Grit and Suzi’s rival, Barbie, turn Suzi’s life upside down where everything goes wrong and it seems sports day dreams of success are fading fast. Brilliantly bringing to life the perils of school from dealing with class rivals, unfair punishments and worst of all, a horrible supply teacher, young readers will relate to and thoroughly enjoy this story!
Gamer by Chris Bradford is a thrilling adventure and the first in the Virtual Kombat series. Set in a dystopian future, where people escape their despair into the world of Virtual Kombat, Scott is a street kid with big dreams. Like everyone else around him, he wants to join Virtual Kombat and get off the streets for good. When it seems his dream to comes true, he can’t believe his luck. A gripping narrative captures the peril of this story as Scott realises Virtual Kombat is not what he thought – the pain is real and so is the danger – perhaps it’s not just a game after all. A great choice for all those young gamers out there, rereleased with a new cover, the story doesn’t hold back and readers will be hooked from the first page.
Eagle Warrior by Gill Lewis is a beautifully written tale focusing on endangered wildlife and conservation. When a golden eagle is found settled near her family farm, Bobbie is determined to protect it – especially when it becomes clear the eagle is in danger. The challenge before her is made even more difficult when it seems Bobbie will be sent to boarding school, she does not want to leave her beautiful moorland home. A family row ensues with Bobbie stuck in the middle. Utterly thought-provoking and believable, the story highlights man’s disregard for wildlife even in the face of the most magnificent of species and how standing up to this can make all the difference to conservation. It’s a lesson Bobbie’s whole family learn from and the result is a new found respect for the place they call home – and each other. The author has pledged her PLR royalties derived from this book to Wild Justice, a new organisation challenging the legalities of wildlife law.
These titles are from the middle grade category. These books are also written by the best children’s authors and are designed to be engaging quick reads – perfect for emerging, reluctant and dyslexic readers. Clever editing and design tricks ensure stories are totally accessible.
Because of You by Eve Ainsworth is a timely and relevant story dealing with issues around cyber-bullying and merging families. Teens will undoubtedly identify with Poppy and the challenges she faces as her mum’s new boyfriend moves in, along with his daughter Kayla. The reality of family break-ups and new beginnings is palpable as Poppy’s voice shares the heartbreak and frustration she feels. Coupled with spiralling problems at school, let down by friends and family, it’s a huge relief (for the reader too!) when Poppy realises she has people on her side – people who care about her and believe in her. Both heart-rending and heart-warming this story shines a light on the pain of divorce and cyber bullying. Hope is never far away once you recognise the importance of being honest as a family.
This is a teen title, taken from a range which offers fantastic stories to engage teen readers, often about gritty and relevant topics. Even the most reluctant of teen readers will be drawn to these well-written and accessible books.
Find out more about the brilliant books available from Barrington Stoke here. With thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me these books to review.