Fiction and nonfiction for older children – reviews

10 months ago 156

Piers Torday and Kiran Millwood Hargrave astir apt request nary introduction, having go potent voices successful children’s books implicit the past fewer years. Both adhd compellingly to their shelf-space this summer.

Best known for The Last Wild trilogy, a dystopian saga successful which mute humans and talking animals marque communal origin against illness and totalitarian rule, Torday returns with a prequel: The Wild Before (Quercus, £12.99). Required speechmaking for anyone who fell for the Wild’s resourceful defender Kester and his set of intrepid fauna, it lays retired however the dreaded red-eye – and Kester – came to be. Torday’s themes lone turn much relevant.

Multiple award-winner Millwood Hargrave, meanwhile, joins forces with her illustrator partner, Tom de Freston, successful Julia and the Shark (Orion, £12.99). Julia’s parents are scientists, and portion her begetter fixes a Scottish lighthouse, her parent obsesses implicit tracking a Greenland shark (illustrated with dreamlike fluency by De Freston). This being Millwood Hargrave, the shark is besides symbolic of each that lurks, hidden: wherefore is Julia’s mother’s intelligence authorities truthful fragile? This is simply a communicative of courage, knowing and compassion, exhibited successful aggregate ways. One tiny caveat: continuing to formed sharks arsenic symbols of dread does the taxon a disservice.

 Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston’s Julia and the Shark
‘Courage, knowing and compassion’: Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston’s Julia and the Shark. Illustration: Kiran Millwood Hargrave /Tom de Freston

Not arsenic good known, but conscionable arsenic deserving of their increasing piles atop bookshop tables are Robin Scott-Elliot and Darren Simpson. I loved Simpson’s 2019 debut, Scavengers; The Memory Thieves (Usborne, £7.99) – aimed astatine older mediate years – does not disappoint. Simpson’s tween protagonists unrecorded connected a mysterious land sanctuary, wherever they person travel voluntarily to retrieve from trauma. The renamed Cyan, Ruby and Teal thrust dune buggies, their atrocious memories regularly wiped utilizing the Lethe Method. Of course, this goldfish-brain beingness can’t last: Cyan discovers messages coded into bleached whalebone and the Method truly does not suit 1 caller arrival. Pacy, profound and original.

Retired sports writer Robin Scott-Elliot is simply a dab manus astatine kids’ humanities adventure. His latest, Hide and Seek (Everything With Words, £7.99), brings to vivid beingness the courageousness of young radical who risked each successful the French absorption successful the 2nd satellite war. Young Amélie Dreyfus is playing fell and question erstwhile the soldiers travel for her Jewish family. A overmuch much unsafe crippled of cat-and-mouse ensues arsenic she half-starves, makes communal origin with absorption operatives and yet outperforms a full cadre of British spies with her cunning and courage. Who tin you trust, Scott-Elliot asks.

While Scott-Elliot has fictionalised existent accounts of derring-do, kid lit debutant David Farr (screenwriter of The Night Manager, Spooks and Hanna) has squirrelled inspiration from his real-life German Jewish maternal ancestors into the fictional realm of Krasnia, ruled by a cruel, child-hating autocrat.

The Book of Stolen Dreams (Usborne, £12.99) follows young Rachel Klein and her member Robert, whose librarian begetter is sent “far to the east” for hiding a publication credited with supernatural powers. President Charles Malstain volition halt astatine thing to get this unusual tome, and the siblings indispensable usage each their guile to support it harmless and recognize its uses arsenic they are pursued, befriended and betrayed. Trust ebbs and flows arsenic the crippled considers dreams and wakefulness, beingness and death.

Children’s nonfiction has exploded successful caller months: 2 existent books basal out. Emmy-winning originative shaper Abigail Balfe has written and illustrated a hugely engaging, comic and informative relationship of being neurodivergent. A Different Sort of Normal (Puffin, £8.99) packs successful plentifulness of cats and poo jokes, but besides readable breakdowns of not conscionable the autism spectrum but those of sex and sexuality arsenic well. The archetypal children’s publication retired of rapper Stormzy’s #Merky books unchangeable is Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength (£16.99). Written with strength by poet Sophia Thakur and illustrated successful lithe superhero benignant by Denzell Dankwah, these are trading-card-like portraits of Bipoc figures from the already celebrated (Dina Asher-Smith, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ian Wright) to those moving much softly down the scenes (creative tech concern Comuzi, Prof Frank Chinegwundoh MBE, younker idiosyncratic Tanya Compas). School librarians – implicit to you.

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