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We Come Apart

22 Apr

There are some authors whom you cherish. Their words bring you to life. Their books are stroked and collected in different editions. A new book’s publishing date is scribbled on your calendar and you inhale it when it arrives. There are so many authors whose work sends me a bit giddy like that and Sarah Crossan is definitely one of them. I inhaled the e-book of We Come Apart as soon as it was released. And then I visited Hunting Raven bookshop and bought the hardback and I read it again, slower this time, revelling. Because Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan have created something really beautiful here.

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‘Nicu is so not Jess’s type. He’s all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes, eager as a puppy, even when they’re picking up litter in the park for community service. Appearances matter to Jess. She’s got a lot to hide.

Nicu shouldn’t even be looking at Jess. His parents are planning his marriage to a girl he’s never met back home in Romania. But he wants to work hard, do better, stay here.

As Nicu and Jess grow closer, their secrets surface like bruises. And as the world around them grows more hostile, the only safe place Jess and Nicu have is with each other.’

Written in free verse poems, the two characters take turns to share their stories. Jess and Nicu’s lives are very different and are written by two authors, yet their voices work beautifully together as the characters circle each other, learning about themselves through each other. As they become closer and their worlds begin to enclose them, we are shown a post-Brexit Britain filled with poverty, bitterness and anger towards otherness. And yet We Come Apart is full of hope. It shows two teenagers who are squashed by so much, and yet have the strength of their developing friendship to lift them through. It is powerful, emotional and it will hold you tight by the heart. It still hasn’t let mine go.

You can get your copy here.

Source – bought from Hunting Raven bookshop

Young Ambassadors for diversity and inclusion

21 Apr

I’m making the assumption that if you read this blog you are already on board with the fact that inclusive and diverse books are groovy and important things. I figure you know that they can, and will, help the next generation change the world. And that’s why I want to share this campaign for Young Ambassadors by Inclusive Minds. They want to develop a network of young ambassadors with real experience of marginalisation (in all areas of diversity), who will share their knowledge with the book world. They will be the ace team who comment on ideas and manuscripts and help authors and the children’s publishing industry to create authentic diverse voices. This project has already been successfully piloted and will help to dramatically improve authenticity in books and give young people a real voice in the children’s book world. But they need our help.

Inclusive Minds is a not-for-profit collective who work with the children’s publishing industry to push for more inclusive and diverse characters and stories. They are awesome and they are making a real difference. Their crowdfunding campaign to roll out their Young Ambassadors campaign only has 8 days left and they need help to reach their target. There are some incredible perks on offer, like signed artwork and books, an hour’s consultation with Inclusive Minds for your writing and a ticket to the next Children’s Laureate ‘unveiling ‘. Even if you can’t contribute financially at the moment, please have a read of their plan – it might be something that can help the authors/creators among us – and consider sharing it.

I know times are hard but this campaign could make a huge difference to the books that the next generation are reading, showing them a wider more inclusive world view and helping them grow up to be empathetic and awesome human beings. Plus, end of month pay day is coming up and should fall within the last few days of the campaign.

Have a look here. Be a part of the mission to change the world, one book at a time.

the stars at oktober bend by Glenda Millard

14 Mar

Australian author Glenda Millard is highly respected for her work in her home country and deserves to be as well-known and respected in the UK. Old Barn Books are releasing her works to a wider audience and the stars at oktober bend had me wowed.

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‘Alice Nightingale writes about how it is to have perfect thoughts that come out in slow, slurred speech. She imagines herself stepping into clear midair with wings made of words and feathers.

Manny James runs at night, trying to escape memories of his past. He sees Alice on the roof of her river-house, looking like a figurehead on a ship sailing through the stars. He has a poem in his pocket and he knows the words by heart. He is sure that the girl has written them.

Alice longs to be everything a fifteen-year-old girl can be. And when she sees the running boy she is anchored to the earth by her desire to see him again.’

Glenda Millard’s writing is beautiful. Evocative and lyrical, the stars at oktober bend explores the healing power of creativity and hope and the importance of family – however it is formed.

Alice and Manny are both survivors. Alice from a violent assault and Manny from war in his home country. Both are learning to live and trust again and to move on from the guilt they feel over the loss of their families. Despite the premise, this book sings of hope. It is in the poems Alice writes, the intricate fishing flies she makes from feathers, and in the way trust develops friendships into family. the stars at oktober bend opens our eyes to the darkness in the world – and feels very relevant in these times of Trump – but it also shines a light. In the words of Alice, ‘if we let cowards stop us living the way we want to, we let them win.’

A special mention, too, for Ruth Grüner’s stunning cover design which manages to echo the book perfectly.

Old Barn Books are releasing a further novel by Glenda Millard. Keep your eyes open for A Small Free Kiss in the Dark this summer.

Source – bought from my lovely local indie bookshop, Bags of Books in Lewes.

Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters

8 Mar

Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters has the feel of a classic. It is engaging and entertaining with a beautifully empowering message regarding equality and respect. I loved it! 

‘Evie couldn’t be angrier with her mother. She’s only gone and got married again and has flown off on honeymoon, sending Evie to stay with a godmother she’s never even met in an old, creaky house in the middle of nowhere. Her phone is broken and it is all monumentally unfair. But on the first night, Evie sees a strange, ghostly figure at the window. Spooked, she flees from the room, feeling oddly disembodied as she does so. Out in the corridor, it’s 1814 and Evie finds herself dressed as a housemaid. She’s certain she’s gone back in time for a reason. A terrible injustice needs to be fixed. But there’s a housekeeper barking orders, a bad-tempered master to avoid, and the chamber pots won’t empty themselves. It’s going to take all Evie’s cunning to fix things in the past so that nothing will break apart in the future…’

What an excellent premise. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that? Think Tom’s Midnight Garden for the modern age.

Humorous and witty, Peters has aced the voice, brilliantly portraying the frustrations and worries of an early teenaged girl. Evie’s Ghost is filled with brilliant characters to inspire children, including an awesome 1814 Nasty Woman. It describes the chasm between privilege and poverty and the pain and indignities that such inequality causes. Despite the majority of Evie’s Ghost being set in 1814 these lessons are painfully relevant today.

Forced marriage, poverty versus privilege, inequality, the unwanted attentions of men and unjust repercussions on women, and human beings as commodities. When looked at from a Trump-led 2017 it’s easy to wonder if we have progressed that far at all. And that’s why we need books like Evie’s Ghost. Books that are engaging and entertaining but have an underlying message of equality. I’m thankful that children will be able to read this book and make these connections themselves. I hope it changes the way they see their world and inspires them to be the change they want to see. Huge hurrahs to Helen Peters and Nosy Crow.

Out in April, you can pre-order your copy here.

Source – kindly sent for review by Nosy Crow.

Women In Science

8 Mar

It is International Women’s Day 2017 and this gem has just been delivered.


It is PERFECT. I will let it speak for itself:

‘A gloriously illustrated celebration of trailblazing women. Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from both the ancient and modern worlds. The book also contains fascinating infographics and an illustrated scientific glossary.’


‘The extraordinary women profiled include well-known figures like the physicist and chemist Marie Curie, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists and beyond …’

These women changed the world. They followed their dreams and they used their brains and they made incredible things happen. This book is the perfect inspiration for the next generation of game-changers. And in this age of climate change, our world depends on the children reading this book. They will be the ones to save us all.



You can get your copy here.

Source – purchased copy.

Little People, Big Dreams

25 Jan

Now more than ever we need to empower our girls and young women. We need to show them examples of women who have made a difference, who have stormed their way through glass ceilings. Because these women are so often erased from history, we need to work twice as hard to highlight their achievements. And that is why books like the Little People, Big Dreams series (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) are so important. 


These books feature trailblazing women as children, showing that no matter who you are or where you start in life, you can fulfil your dreams and achieve great things. 


They are brilliantly accessible and inspiring and the perfect way to start armouring the future generation of Nasty Women. I love the way they celebrate difference and show children that your uniqueness is your strength.


Each book includes a fact section and a list of further reading. I particularly like the inclusion of photographs of the women as children, to really show readers where these women came from and how they grew up to be such fantastic, inspirational women. 


These beautiful books really do deserve a place in every school library and classroom. They would work brilliantly with Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

You can get your copies here. And keep your eyes open for two new titles coming soon. 

Source – kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 

Books for a Future

12 Nov


We are all reeling from the American election results and the impact a Trump-led leadership is already having on tolerance, equality and justice. And all that on top of our own Brexit backlash! This shift to a right wing leadership is going to have a huge impact on the most vulnerable in our communities and will leave a lasting legacy for our children to fix. 

So what can we do? We can stand together and stand up to bigotry and hate. Now is the time for solidarity, kindness and inclusion. It’s more important than ever to teach the children in our lives to stand up for what they believe in and to look out for others. My social media has been full of positivity and plans for action. It’s one of the things I love most about social media – when the shit hits, there’s always an uprising of hope. 

So here’s what I’m going to do, and I’d love for you to join me…

*Goes full Whitney* I believe the children are our future. And I believe that books can change the world. So I’m going to bring the two together by gifting an empowering, inclusive book to my local school every month, as well as highlighting the best of the bunch on here. 

Books teach children about the world they live in, and in turn about tolerance, appreciating diversity and supporting others. I want to arm children with these qualities. They are going to need them!

This is something everyone can do to make a difference. We all have children in our lives, whether in our families, in our social groups or in our communities. Sharing empowering books with them could make all the difference. And it doesn’t have to cost money. You could donate your time and talk to these kids about books and the world, or share the book recommendations with parents and teachers you know to help get these books to the kids. 


The first book I’m going to give is Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury). It seems very apt! I love this book more than I can say. It’s a hugely empowering, fun and fact-filled picture book about women who changed the world across very different fields, including Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank. I want to push this book into the hands of every girl and tell them it will be okay. That they can do it. That we believe in them and that we’ve got their backs. 


Want to join me? Perhaps you could gift a book to your local school, library or community group? Or to a child in your life? Perhaps you could give your time to read with a child at a local school. Have a look at Beanstalk and see if they work with schools in your area. Because reading unlocks the future. 

Sadly this awesome book is out of stock pretty much everywhere at the moment – that’s how good it is! – but more stock is coming and there are tons of fantastically inclusive and inspirational books out there. Perhaps you could gift one of these:

If you are concerned about right wing views on refugees and migration you could gift The Journey. If you fear for the freedom of the press and the impact of a biased media you could give Girl with a White Dog. If you want to empower young women you could give What’s a Girl Gotta Do? If you want to support inclusion try any of The Great Big Book… series. For LGBT awareness you could gift Made By Raffi. Or have a look at Letterbox Library for inspiration. 

I’ll be using #booksforafuture to share the book giving and highlight other awesome world-changing and empowering books that our children deserve in their lives. Come and join me. What books would you add to the list?