Independent Bookselling for Independent Minds
October is wild, living in the woods with her Dad and a rescued fledgling owl, in a house he built for them himself. But when her Dad is seriously injured, she’s forced to leave her beloved woods and move to London to live with her Mum. A new school in a hostile urban environment brings a harsh sense of alienation to October’s life. But then she finds a friend in Yusuf, a boy in her class, and begins to reconcile her two very different lives. This is an incredibly moving book about learning to hold on to what you love while rising to the challenges everyone faces as they start to leave childhood behind.
This hugely satisfying novel is imbued with a spectral luminosity. Set in the Lake District in 1899, we follow the fortunes of the 12-year-old Lady Agatha Asquith as she finds herself cast out of Gosswater Hall to live in a cramped cottage with a man who claims to be her father. As Aggie struggles to adjust to this situation, she becomes bound up in a mysterious chain of events. As the year turns, a ghost girl creeps through a chink in time to reveal hidden secrets and lead Aggie to discover her identity. Along the way, Aggie meets Bryn, whose fantastic grin belies the harsh hand life has dealt him, and together they delve deep into Gosswater’s history to uncover the truth and right the wrongs of the past…
This is a superb fantasy adventure with a tantalising mystery at its heart. It all begins when Flick moves to a new town with her family, she’s feeling bored and a bit left out, when she meets Jonathan, the owner of a very odd travel agency indeed. The ‘travel’ in question is not between countries but entire worlds, all reached through the portal of a variety of suitcases. However, there’s more to Jonathan’s story than meets the eye; he has lost both his parents in sinister circumstances which he’s determined to investigate. Meanwhile on her own journeys off-world Flick starts exhibiting powers she wasn’t aware she possessed and begins to question who she really is. Fabulously full of intrigue, I absolutely loved this book.
Could dragons exist? This is the question facing Syms Covington, assistant to Charles Darwin on his famous voyage of discovery aboard The Beagle. Washed ashore on one of the Galapagos Islands after an expedition goes awry, Syms meets with a helpful creature whom he names Farthing and presumes to be a species of lizard. However, he also encounters a very different, extremely large, and very threatening animal on the island: could it really be a dragon? As Syms battles to stay alive, escape a volcanic eruption, and return to the ship, he knows he needs to find Mr Darwin and try to explain his incredible discovery.
This is a fantastic adventure story. Set at an indeterminate time in prehistory, it follows tribal chief’s son Oak; a somewhat spoilt, arrogant character who takes his position, family, and friends very much for granted. But when he is suddenly separated from his home with only a wild horse as a companion, he quickly learns about the importance of cooperation, consideration, and the ties of friendship. As horse and boy come to rely on each other in order to survive and embark on their perilous journey homeward, this develops into a suspenseful tale filled with courage and danger; testing the bond between the pair to its very limits.
North Child by Edith Pattou is an epic, vivid retelling of the Norwegian folk tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with a hefty dash of Beauty and the Beast and a few sprinklings of Narnia thrown in. When north-born child Rose is visited by a huge white bear, it’s only the start of a remarkable quest that will change her life forever. North Child is a feast of rich storytelling, with a wonderfully courageous yet realistic heroine in Rose. It’s also the perfect escapist combination of myth, fairytale and love story - a lovely read for adults as well as children!
Emma Carroll brings 17th century Somerset wonderfully to life in this gripping novel that tells the story of Fortune, a young girl who must fight to save not only her friends and family from the devastating floodwaters that swept the West Country in 1607, but herself from accusations of witchcraft. Fortune is a wonderfully relatable heroine as she learns to trust herself and her instincts, finding her own way in a world that is not friendly to women. Done with Emma Carroll’s usual flair and gift for great storytelling, this is one of our favourite book group reads.
This is a cracking story, full of mystery, magic, monsters, friendship, and a generous helping of fish ‘n chips! Herbie Lemon, Lost and Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel in Eerie-on-Sea, finds his orderly world turned upside down when a young girl comes crashing through his window begging for his help in finding her long-lost parents. The two youngsters are plunged into a side of Eerie-on-Sea that the summer tourists never see – one of mermonkeys, legends, and fossil hunters. In the meantime, the legend of the malamander – half man, half fish – is stirring….
This is a masterful piece of storytelling, drawing on the legacies of Watership Down and fantasies such as The Hobbit. The young rabbit Podkin is the son of one of the greatest chieftains in the Five Realms. Spoilt and lazy, he isn’t exactly hero material – but when his warren is attacked by the terrifying iron Gorm, Podkin must step up to save himself, his family, and his home. This comes recommended by both adults and children, and is fast becoming a modern classic!
This is a wonderful take on a who-dunnit for older children – full of magic, mystery, red herrings, and a talking cat! Seth is the downtrodden kitchen boy at the Last Chance Hotel, where his only friend is his cat Nightshade. Seth longs to be a chef, but when an important guest is poisoned by Seth’s special dessert Seth must prove his innocence – a task made all the more difficult when there’s magic afoot…
Reading these thrilling tales you really are entering into another world with the characters from myth and legend bursting forth from the pages in Jeffrey Alan Love’s amazing illustrations. The stories of Odin, Thor and Loki are not for the faint hearted, as the gods are uncompromising beings, who create the world as they see fit, often fighting amongst themselves and paying scant attention to the welfare of us mere mortals!
If you’re looking for a children’s book in the 10+ age range then this would make an excellent choice. It is a beautifully written book telling the story of a unique friendship between a Native American boy and a young English boy, as settlers begin to colonise the New World in the seventeenth century. This is a wonderful story of lives lived close to nature and of the growing rift between communities who are unable or unwilling to understand one another.
Humanity is at the heart of this perceptive and moving story. Set in February 1941, siblings Olive and Cliff are evacuated to Devon. Since their father’s plane was shot down over France and their older sister Suki is missing during the bombings in London, their family know only too well about the trauma caused by war. Emma Carroll’s writing is impressive: what appears as a clear, straight forward story of evacuation and the British wartime efforts on the home front is underlined with some very large moral issues relating to antisemitism and society’s ability to help refugees. This would make an excellent class read.
Vikings, runes, wolves, a feisty heroine and the quest for a mysterious casket…all the ingredients for the perfect adventure! Join Alva and her beloved wolf Fenrir as she investigates kidnappings, deciphers clues, and heads off on the trail of treasure – and her long-lost father. Full of historical detail and Norse mythology, this takes you right to the heart of Viking Scandinavia!
If you’re looking for a bold fast-paced adventure full of cliff-hangers, suspense and magic, then Sky Song has it all. Set in the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald at a time where the feuding tribes are hiding from an evil ice queen, it is down to Eska and Flint to change the fate of their land. Their journey is full of danger and discovery but this is also a story of friendship, the importance of understanding one another and belonging.
This exquisite illustrated guide to the stars is bursting with mythology, art, history, and science. 100 pieces of magical art interweave fact and myth to create a book full of the night skies. Adults and children can revel in the enchantment and beauty of the constellations, the moon, the planets, the northern lights, deep space, and nebulae. It is a delightful ride through outer-space which will make you want to grab a pair of binoculars or simply a pair of boots… and get outside under the stars.
The book is set in 1909 where Sophie Taylor is an employee of Sinclair’s, the grandest new department store in London. However, before the store even opens, there’s a burglary in which Sophie is implicated and she needs the help of her friends Lily, Joe and Billy to prove her innocence. This is a superb adventure with great characters, creepy villains and a genuinely exciting plot. Excitingly, all the brilliant elements of Katherine Woodfine’s storytelling continue in the following instalments!
Chloe Daykin’s superb debut novel Fish Boy, tells the story of Billy, an idiosyncratic boy who doesn’t really fit in at school, but who finds comfort in the natural world and his hero David Attenborough. Billy is a fantastic swimmer; a passion passed from his mum who is now too tired to leave the house due to an undiagnosed illness. This troubles Billy dearly and he increasingly seeks solace in his underwater world where one day he encounters a talking mackerel! Intrigued, he returns to the sea, drawn to its carefree allure. This is a book about friendship, with endearing, funny observations about the quirks of family life and finding one’s place. Chloe’s writing is beautiful, poetical and moving; truly fantastic storytelling.
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