What To Read Now

Book covers: Brenda is a Sheep. Bringing Back Kay-Kay, Northern Soul. The Warm Hands of Ghosts. Books for children and young people to promote reading for pleasure.

What To Read Now

Here are four books for children and young people that we’ve enjoyed recently. They are suitable for different ages, ranging from ages four to 16+. We hope they inspire reading for pleasure in schools, homes and anywhere else books are enjoyed. As ever, let us know what books you’re reading!

Books for children and young people. Reading for pleasure in schools. Brenda is a Sheep book cover.

Brenda is a Sheep by Morag Hood, published by Two Hoots (Pan Macmillan), suitable for ages 4+

Review by Alison Palmer of BCiS

Brenda loves to wear woolly jumpers and hang out with her sheep friends. But is she hiding a terrible secret? You will love this delicious tale of friendship!

Books for children and young people. Reading for pleasure in schools. Bringing Back Kay-Kay book cover.

Bringing Back Kay-Kay by Dev Kothari, published by Walker, suitable for ages 9+

Review by Alison Palmer of BCiS

Lena has always thought her brother was brilliant; he’s her best friend. When he goes missing at the end of summer camp, she refuses to believe that he is lost. The police are not interested, presuming he is a teenage runaway. No one will listen, and with her parents’ grief threatening to overwhelm her, Lena is determined to do something. Looking for clues in his room, she finds his poetry and begins to understand more about her brother and what was happening in the weeks leading to his disappearance. She then sets off to find him on her own.

Books for children and young people.  Northern Soul book cover.

Northern Soul by Phil Earle, published by Barrington Stoke, suitable for ages 11+

Review by Katy Donnelly of BCiS

Marv is fourteen and so far his main interests are football and hanging out with his best mate, Jimmy.  Then Carly joins his school… It’s love at first sight, but Marv has no idea how to even have a basic conversation with her, let alone win her heart. He definitely needs help. This materialises in the form of a musical idol from the past as Otis Redding’s ghost appears in his bedroom (who in this incarnation comes complete with a northern accent and a love of chips and kebabs). Otis may be the King of Soul but his dating advice is questionable and has not kept pace with the modern world of mobile phones and social media. There follows funny and often painful attempts by Marv to get Carly’s attention. Some will make you want to yell out ‘don’t do it’ to Marv, but his cringeworthy efforts are relatable and the tone is affectionate rather than mocking. Overall it’s a fun and touching book, and although everything may not go to plan, you know things will probably work out for Marv in the end. 

This is one of Barrington Stoke’s dyslexic-friendly Hi-Lo books with a reading age of 8 but an interest level of 11+.  At 92 pages it is very manageable for a less confident or reluctant reader, but is a satisfying short read for all readers.

Books for children and young people. Reading for pleasure in schools. The Warm Hands of Ghosts book cover.

The Warm Hands of Ghosts by Katherine Arden, published by Century (Penguin Random House), for ages 16+

Review by Alison Palmer of BCiS

I loved this book set in the First World War about a sister looking for her missing brother. The story doesn’t pull any punches. It depicts the horror of war in the trenches: the men who will never be found and the men with injuries so severe that they wished they hadn’t survived.

Laura, a nurse, hears the whispers of ghosts of soldiers. She also hears haunting violin music which offers the soldiers a chance to escape the terrible reality of the war. 

The story weaves in the mania for spiritualism that had gripped the world in the face of so much senseless death. Intertwining loss and hope, the book plays with the space between reality and dreams. It is hard to put down; you need to know how the characters’ stories end.

Read our What To Read Now blog from November

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