What To Read Now

Children's and YA book reviews

What To Read Now

It’s a bumper edition of What To Read Now this month. We have five books to recommend for ages between 8 and 16+ – so many great books are out right now and we hope you love them as much as we do. What have you been reading? Let us know. 

A giant thank you as ever to our guest reviewers. This month we have contributions from kidlit fan Hattie Miller and reader-reviewer extraordinaire Jade Green of Give A Book

Small! By Hannah Moffatt

Small! by Hannah Moffatt, suitable for ages 8+

Reviewed by Hattie Miller, 26 years and eight months old

I loved this book. The story takes you on Harvey’s adventure into the wonderful world of GIANTS! With moments ranging from touching to laugh-out-loud, I wanted to keep on reading; and hope there will be more instalments. A shout-out has to be given to the fantastic Walloping Toenail, who I wish could be my best friend. If you’re a fan of Roald Dahl and the BFG or the Twits – this would be the perfect choice for you!

Wished by Lissa Evans

Wished by Lissa Evans, suitable for ages 9+

Reviewed by Ali Palmer, BCiS Co-Director 

What if the wishes you had as a young girl really could come true? Well, give it 50 years and the appearance of some grumpy children and a smelly, talking cat  – and maybe they will. At the heart of this swashbuckling adventure story is a reminder that we need to try new things and be braver. Perhaps it won’t be as scary as we think or perhaps it will, but by having a go we might just realise anything is possible. Time to go Everywhere!

Day of the Whale by Rachel Delahaye

Day of the Whale by Rachel Delahaye, suitable for ages 10+ 

Reviewed by Ali Palmer, BCiS Co-Director 

On an island ruled by whales, Big Blue is worshipped and the only person who can talk to him is the whale-talker Byron. One boy, Cam is searching for his father who disappeared. and trying to make sense of his last words to him. – Follow Big Blue. Find the Truth.. Everyone works on the island to clean up the oceans after centuries of neglect and exploitation, to make recompense for the mess that humans have made. Part climate manifesto, part retelling of 1984, this book is a brilliant adventure story as three young people work together to discover what is truly happening in their world.

Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury

Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury, suitable for ages 16+

Reviewed by Ali Palmer, BCiS Co-Director 

Imagine living out on the edges of the world, on an island where Greek myths and Scottish folklore intertwine. A place where it might be possible to visit the Underworld and return like Hermes. Her Dark Wings is a brilliant and dark retelling of the Persephone myth. Corey and Bree have a perfect friendship until Corey’s boyfriend, Ali, comes between them. Corey loses her boyfriend and, more importantly, her best friend. She wishes Bree dead… As the story unfolds the space between the human world and the Underworld become blurred and gaps appear.. Corey finds herself torn between her family in the world of the living and Hades who has declared his love for her. The story follows her journey as she decides who she is and what is important. She is far stronger than she ever knew.

Due out 7 July 2022

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw, suitable for ages 16+

Reviewed by Jade Greene of Give A Book

When You Call My Name follows two 18-year-old boys whose tales intertwine as they explore friendship, love, and self-acceptance in New York City. 

Set in 1990, the very real and terrifying threat of AIDS flows like a sinister undercurrent, one that we fear neither protagonist will escape unscathed. Having grown up with the frightening adverts and safe-sex talks, Ben and Adam are all too aware of the dangers of this disease. But rather than protecting them, it seems these campaigns have left them believing AIDS is an unavoidable by-product of being gay. The fee they pay for falling in love.

And when Adam does fall beautifully and clumsily and passionately in love with 21-year-old Callum, our hearts break with the heavy expectation of their, surely, inevitable ending. But it was not sadness that caused tears as I tore through the pages of their tale in a single weekend. It was the splashes of love – their shoulders swaying to the rise and fall of classical notes on a piano; a laugh that bursts from the belly even when their world is crumbling; a gentle hand on a tired cheek – that made me cry. Shared moments of joy; beautifully captured, painfully fleeting.

Ben’s story served as a welcome escape from Adam’s tumbling love affair. A more introspective journey of self-discovery and acceptance. New York becomes a fresh landscape of promise and opportunity through Ben’s eyes as he tries to find his feet and new-found independence, living away from home for the first time. His encounters with Adam, peppered throughout, sprinkle the story with hope; a chapter yet to be written. 

Reading this book felt like watching a film, and I wanted to linger on the credits long after I turned the last page. A beautiful story of love and friendship, pride and hope. A powerful and apt read for June, Pride Month.

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