London is melting under an oppressive heatwave. Nik & Norva live in the Tri, a high-rise building where their father is the caretaker.
When one of the residents, Hugo, is found murdered, Nik & Norva are on the case.
They loved Hugo, he taught an art class in the common area of the Tri and always had interesting information about the Tri and surrounding community.
It's summer, so Nik & Norva have a lot of time on their hands to devote to the case, to the annoyance of the local residents and police. However, for the most part, the police aren't trusted in the Tri. This gives the detective duo more access to conduct their thorough and (sometimes) reckless research into who committed the horrible crime. As the suspect list mounts, Nik & Norva find themselves in a race against time to find the killer before their lives are turned completely upside down.
High Rise Mystery is an amazing new series by author Sharna Jackson. I loved following Nik & Norva's adventure through the Tri as they unwraveled the crime. They are smart, curious, stubborn and not against bending a few rules to get the job done. They are the perfect team to solve the case and I'm excited to know that they will be back with new stories and new cases to solve in the future.
The supporting characters in High Rise Mystery are just as strong. Nik & Norva's friend George is hilarious and more clever than he lets on. Mark is a potential love interest but also a suspect. Nik & Norva also don't like the way Jane has been acting, in fact, everyone in the building is a suspect.
Good thing they are organised and ready to take on whatever is thrown at them. It's funny, smart and a great who-dunnit that should not be missed.
Sharna recently spoke to the BBC on the importance of young readers seeing their lives, their cultures, religions, backgrounds and communities reflected in the books that they read. You can read the article here.
It also references a new report published by BookTrust, the UK's largest reading charity. The report states that "over the pas 11 years, fewer than 2% of all authors and/or illustrators of children's books published in the UK were British people of colour."
This is why BookTrust has launched #BookTrustRepresents, a campaign to promote and support these authors who are severely underrepresented in the UK.
Vera wants to be what she thinks is a "regular" person. But it's hard as a Russian girl living in the U.S. suburbs. All of her friends seem to have way more money than her and they get to go to cool summer camps. Vera? She's sent to Russian summer camp.
Determined to fit in, Vera soon discovers that she once again starts to feel left out. There are cliques, boring history lessons and disgusting bathrooms that make life unbearable for her.
Still, Vera puts her head down and tries to make the most of it, only the strong willed can survive, and she's a survivor. I really loved this comic from Vera Brosgol (Anya's Ghost), its her own memoir of her time at a Russian summer camp and you can feel the authenticity oozing off of every page. It's funny, sad and awkward all rolled into one great story. Any fan of Raina Telgemeier will absolutely love this amazing tale of adventure, hardship and outhouses from Hell. Loved it, don't miss it.
AJ wants to be different. As it stands, he doesn't feel special, he hasn't grown over the summer holiday, he doesn't have anything that makes him stand out from the crowd and the girl he has a crush on has absolutely no idea that he exists.
When he finds out that his crush, Nia, is in love with a popular teen vampire series, AJ takes matters into his own hands. Then the stars align and he and Nia are paired up to do a group project on, you guessed it: Transylvania!
This is AJ's time to shine, if he can convince Nia that he's as into vampires as she is, she might actually notice him and see how much he cares for her.
Not all is as it seems, though. Not only is Nia harbouring a deep secret, there's something seriously off with their new teacher from the UK. He acts strange, takes his phone out in class and has urgent, hushed conversations and gets agitated really, really quickly. As the mystery unfolds, AJ has much more on his plate than the social hierarchy at school.
I really loved FAKE BLOOD, it's like The Lost Boys, only cooler, funnier and more interesting. There are tons of nods to vampire pop culture and teen literature. It's a hilarious parody that is really fun to read. I work with students who are going to absolutely love this, I can see them existing in this comic, they talk like this, they are the kids who come to the Library to escape the madness that can exist in the hallways on the outside. All Librarians should buy this and have it on display immediately, loved it.
Set a few years after the U.S. presidential election, Internment is the story of Layla Amin, a 17 year old Muslim American. Layla can't go to school and, like all Muslims in America, live under a strict curfew. Her father has lost his job and his mother's career is taking a nose dive. People are burning books in town centres that are written by or are sympathetic to Muslims.
Then, the inevitable happens. Her and her family are rounded up and thrown into an Internment camp for other Muslims.
Almost immediately, and despite constant surveillance, Layla starts to plot ways to get her and her family out of this nightmare.
While at the camp, she meets other sympathetic teens and together the wheels of revolution start to turn. I loved that it was the teens that ignite the rebellion in the camp, I feel this is a very accurate portrayal. Sure they act recklessly sometimes, but no revolution was successful without a little recklessness.
Desperate to make contact with David, her boyfriend on the outside, Layla finds friends in surprising areas of the camp to help her achieve this goal.
Once people start to disappear, and rumours of torture start swirling around the camp, Layla and her friends must make a choice: are they going to go through with their plan? Do they have what it takes to potentially endure torture? It's clear that their parents aren't going to stand up against the guards and the evil Director, so the choice must be made.
I really loved Internment, it focuses on what Muslims are experiencing in the modern world. It is a call to action and educates readers on the power of subtle and not so subtle racist terminology. I'm really excited to get this into the hands of the students I work with, highly recommend it!
In 1947, India gained its independence from British rule and was split into two countries, India & Pakistan. This change created a huge amount of tension between Muslims & Hindus. As people desperately tried to run for safety, thousands were killed. Nisha is twelve and is half Hindu, half Muslim. She doesn't understand why her family is suddenly in danger, but her physician father bundles her and her younger brother and their grandmother up and make a run for the Pakistan border where they hope they'll find safety.
Along the way, Nisha writes diary entries to her deceased mother, whom she never knew. Nisha chronicles the heartache and danger the family faces as they walk towards Pakistan, desperately hoping they will find her mother's brother who has agreed to take them in. Faced with dying of starvation, crazed killers and unfathomable conditions, Nisha's story is as heart breaking as it is exhilarating.
I really couldn't put this novel down, Nisha's letters to her mother are funny, sad and poignant. She is a brave voice in an uncertain world. The novel also educated me on a time period and place I hadn't really paid attention to before. It's a tragic moment in history that is made interesting and heartfelt through this compelling novel. I really think all students ages 10 and up should read this fantastic book.
In the eerie town of Suds, children are disappearing. Some of them come back, unable to speak, their eyes turned grey, their hair turned white, their spirit sucked from them completely.
Poppy is visiting her Gran for the summer, her Gran has funny rules like all washing has to be in before 6pm, no sugar is to be left lying around the house and never, ever clean any windowsills.
When Poppy meets Erasmus, an odd boy who doesn't seem to have a filter, they start to unravel an ancient, terrifying secret that hides just under the town's sleepy veneer.
As they get closer to discovering the truth, Poppy realises that her Gran, her friends and her own life are in horrible danger.
I loved this novel, the writing is crisp and clear and Poppy is an amazing protagonist. She's clever, stubborn and doesn't back down from a fight. The great thing about this story are the secondary characters who really jump off the page with grit and spirit. Erasmus is hilarious, loyal and headstrong as is Poppy's Gran. Poppy's dynamic with her absentee father is very realistic and touching. The villains in this novel are truly terrifying, stuff that creeps into your dreams and spins them into nightmares. It's a fantastic tale that will become a modern classic in my opinion. Don't miss it!
Amal lives a simple life with her family in Pakistan. She dreams of becoming a teacher in a culture that doesn't look kindly on girls trying to escape the traditional role of housewife. Still, Amal is unfazed and ensures she keeps up with her studies despite the fact that she is told by her father she must stay away from school in order to take care of her younger siblings.
One day in a crowded market, Amal is hit by a car. She's relatively unhurt, but the person who hit her is a dangerous crime lord.
After speaking back to this man, she is ordered to leave her home and become his mother's servant until her debt to him is paid off. Once in the compound, Amal finds others who are desperate to pay off their debt and get back to their families. It's a hard life, but the gangster's mother is kinder than most and they find common ground in the fact that they are from the same area.
Without spoiling the novel, Amal hatches a plan to once and for all remove herself from the clutches of the crime lord.
I loved this novel, Amal's steady, smart approach to every challenge was fascinating to read. I could not put this story down, I simply had to know if she made it out of the gangster's compound or if everything blows up in her face. Amal is a heart breaking character with guts of steel, an inspiration to children everywhere. I'd highly recommend this novel to ages 9+!
Kiranmala has just turned 12 but instead of a standard birthday party in her home city of New Jersey, her parents disappear and a snot-gushing hell demon has appeared on her front lawn.
Luckily, she's helped by two princely brothers who defeat the creature and tell Kiranmala to come with them on their magic flying horses if she wants to find her missing parents. Yes, not a typical birthday party. Kiranmala joins the brothers in what turns into an epic quest filled with terrifying demons, bizarre relatives and cosmic danger. Traveling into a new dimension, Kiranmala must discover her hidden killer instinct and mental fortitude if she's got even a chance to survive.
The Serpent's Secret is part of a new series that combines a lot of sharp, funny dialogue and almost non stop action. It's been promoted as a must have for fans of Percy Jackson and I have to agree, it involves a lot of traditional Indian folklore and a protagonist that I can imagine gets more and more headstrong with each novel. I really recommend it for ages 10 and up!
Marinka is 12 and lives in a house with chicken legs. This is how I promote this book to students. It always makes their heads perk up that half inch that every Librarian looks for when they try to get them interested in a book. The house picks itself up at random a few times a year and travels around the world, settling down to let Marinka and her grandmother do their important work.
That work is guiding dead spirits from the land of the living to the land of the stars, or the afterlife.
Marinka doesn't want to have this gig, she wants to be "normal" with regular friends who aren't ghosts. Then Marinka starts to break the rules, she starts to defy her grandmother and bad things start to happen. The worst being that her grandmother vanishes out of thin air and the house starts to slowly crumble. Desperate, Marinka puts a plan into action that will either save her and the house or plunge everyone she knows into certain peril.
There's not much to say about The House With Chicken Legs that hasn't already been said before. It's beautifully written, Marinka is smart, stubborn and determined to live her own life despite the plan that's laid out for her. She makes mistakes and has a good heart, she's a great protagonist. I tell the students she's someone you'd want to be good friends with because you'd know you could trust her. It's a stunning debut that deserves all of the praise that it's getting, makes sure you get it into the hands of anyone in your life ages 10 and up as soon as possible.
When 12 year old Alex receives an old toy robot from his eccentric grandfather, he doesn't know what to think. His grandfather's always coming in and out of his life in weird and wonderful things.
There's something off about this toy, though, something Alex can't quite pinpoint. When strange things begin to happen, Alex and his grandfather end up in whirlwind adventure full of dangerous creatures and dastardly villains who are hell bent at gaining power no matter what the cost.
This novel has many great aspects to it, robots, golems from Jewish folklore stemming from the city of Prague and it also has some genuinely frightening scenes which I was surprised at but really enjoyed. There is a ton of action as Alex discovers that the robot he was sent holds the key to a centuries old mystery, one that can give the owner of the robot immense power over other people. Even with his brief encounter with it, Alex is able to use the robot to briefly control others and I liked how it was disturbing yet alluring to him at the same time, as it would all of us.
I think the students at Glenthorne will really enjoy this unique novel, I hope a sequel is in the works. I recommend it for ages 12 and up!