MG Review: Help! I Smell a Monster, by Justin Davies

Help! I Smell a Monster Justin Davies, illus Kim Geyer out now from Orchard Books Fab and funny MG mayhem with monsters I enjoyed this so much and readers of the target age (and up…) will too. The adventures are fast-paced, and have that irreverent madcap humour that particularly appeals at the younger end of […]

Mini-reviews: YA novels featuring resilient female characters

For today’s blog I’ve chosen three recent YA reads which all feature female protagonists in difficult situations who emerge having shown considerable strength and resilience. Not all of them begin as ‘resilient’ characters, or would necessarily describe themselves as having resilience, but each would be a good read for a teenager who was, equally, going […]

UKYA review: Proud, compiled by Juno Dawson

Proud is Stripes Book’s third YA anthology and the second to consciously focus on a representation gap in the YA market. Like last year’s A Change is Gonna Come, this book is a triumph and strongly recommended as an addition to classroom and library shelves. The genius of boosting representation by anthology is in the […]

Mini-reviews: fab YA genre reads offering great representation

Often when we talk about diversity and representation, it’s contemporary novels that get all the attention. Somehow, it seems that those ‘edgy’ reads set squarely and realistically in the present lend themselves maybe a little more easily to reflecting the world’s diversity a little more readily. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. Here […]

Happy New Year – my 2018 discoveries

Well, it’s been a while! I’ve been a busy bee this last term, going back to uni after 20 years to begin a PhD looking at the possibilities diverse YA might offer in the classroom. It’s been great to read theory about reading and to look at some studies into different types of reading (as […]

Reading Recommendations Slide 26: Revision Season Escapism 2 – Fantasy

This half term, all my recommendations will focus on reading for pleasure, relaxation and escapism during revision season. This week I’m offering three titles featuring fantasy worlds, all of which have at least one sequel to get stuck into (and the one that is ‘only’ a duology are classic fantasy big fat books, so plenty […]

Reading Recommendations Slide 24: Witches

A nice set of different novels with witches: two contemporaries (one including mystery, supernatural and historical elements), one historical and one dystopian eco-thriller – something for everyone! I pop these recommendation slides up while I take KS4 and 5 registers (if I had yr9 classes, I’d use them there too) and allow students to read […]

Reading Recommendations Slide 21: Fairy Tales

These books all borrow from fairy tales, folklore or existing classic stories as their source material. This is a genre of its own with plenty to choose from. (I’m particularly looking forward to Louise O’Neill’s take on The Little Mermaid, The Surface Breaks, due out in May – bound to be an interesting feminist re-interpretation […]

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton: February’s Book of the Month in-depth – review and a writing activity adaptable for KS3-5

Age range: YA (12+) Themes: identity, diversity/ethnicity/race, protest & politics Genre: fantasy + western  Narrative style: first-person past tense with plenty of pace and an engaging voice with plenty of ‘sass’ and wit. It’s really easy to root for Amani as she tries desperately to escape her situation by dressing as a boy and entering a shooting […]

Introducing February’s Book of the Month: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (including GCSE Language prep task on inference)

This fantasy YA novel opens a glorious trilogy (the final instalment has just published this week) exploring identity, loyalty and other eternal themes relating to the classic battles between good and evil. As with many other books I’ve recommended, I love and recommend this series for its genuine feminist principles – not just a ‘strong […]

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