BfK 10 – 14 Middle/Secondary continued

life. Grandad’s also shared his love of running with AJ, as well as his capacity for happiness focussed on love of family and friends. Now Grandad’s gone, AJ has to take responsibility for everything from bills from the Electricity Company (especially if they’re printed in red) to dealing with the requirements of his new school which needs forms to be filled out, parents’ evenings to be attended and so on. AJ fears that unless he keeps his home

circumstances where that secret,

including Grandad’s death, he might end up being taken into Care. Then how would Mum and Dad cope? Here’s


straightforward narrative voice makes demands upon readers. AJ himself can’t read the pressures he’s under and so, although he tells us honestly about

his own sudden outbursts

and admits he is sometimes selfish towards his friends, his Aunt, Uncle and his much-loved younger cousin, he cannot understand his own erratic behaviour. Because he won’t


about his worries at home, there are

misunderstandings with his

new PE teacher (who’s in charge of Cross-Country). Worst of all, AJ’s embarrassed about his Mum and Dad when they meet other parents or his teachers – and then he’s ashamed of his own embarrassment. If they pick up the clues, readers will make more sense of things than AJ can himself. Sue Durrant tells her story without

resort to the overused and even melodramatic features of too many urban fictions for young readers – bullying on screen and in person, the intrusions of social media, the pressures


soon Mary and her mother are parted, never to meet again. When Anne becomes Queen immense pressure is put upon Mary to acknowledge Anne as Queen and that she herself is no longer a princess, but she resists, and gradually her own position becomes more and more desperate. Because she refuses to acknowledge her baby half- sister, Elizabeth is punished, deprived of food and loses weight. Thomas Cromwell, uses her plight to try to get to her renounce her position, but she will not give in. It is only after her mother’s death, and that of Anne Boleyn, that she is returned to court and reunited with her father and his new wife Jane Seymour. All this is familiar for students

of Tudor history, but Lucy Worsley portrays a girl aware of her position, indoctrinated by her mother that she must fight and who carries that out, even at the cost to her health. It is a strong picture of a girl who is a pawn, and knows it, but who resists until she can no longer do so. The tragedy of by

Mary’s young life, dominated Henry’s own power, makes a

compelling read for girls of 12+. The language has been modified for 21st century readers, but the reader is transported to the early 16th century and lives with Mary as she tries to stay alive, but stay true to her principles. There is a particularly arresting cover which will add to its appeal. JF

The Lion Tattoo HHH fashion, image and

popularity, who’s in and who’s out on the social stage. AJ’s a bit young for that stuff anyway, though he’s old enough to be hopelessly tongue- tied every time he goes into the corner shop and sees the amazing girl behind the counter; and he does long for a new pair of trainers, but that’s only so he can run well, not to be out in front in the fashion race. Readers’ affection and concern for AJ will stem, I think, from Durrant’s skilful invitation to read with a dual perspective, sharing AJ’s difficulties while understanding his confusions as he struggles to overcome them. GF

Lady Mary HHHH

Lucy Worsley; illustrated by Joe Berger. Bloomsbury, 384pp.,9781526601100, £6.99 pbk

The very sad tale of the early years of Princess Mary are brought to life by Lucy Worsley in this story.


has been brought up by her mother, Catherine of Aragon, to remember her status in life and that she is a daughter of Spain, a blood-drinker. Being a princess is always going to be a fight to the death for Mary as her mother predicted.

Henry VIII is already dallying with Anne Boleyn, and

Rumi, ill. Atefeh Maleki Joo, Tiny Owl, 24pp, 978-1-9103-2828-6, £7.99 hbk

In this small format picture book for older readers a young man decides that he wants a lion tattoo on his shoulder. He saunters to the tattooist full of bravado, but when she begins her work and he feels the pain of the needle the young man suddenly decides that his lion does not need a tail, a mane or even a stomach. He is ignominiously thrown out of the tattooist’s studio with the words “Brother,

you just can’t stand the

pain” ringing in his ears. This witty illustrated story has a graphic novel style and is aimed at teen readers with its cautionary tale of an overconfident young man whose opinion of his own image and stamina proves to be sadly mistaken. It appears to be a very modern story but is in fact a fable from the thirteenth century poet Rumi’s book Masnavi. Rumi was a poet, philosopher and Sufi mystic and this humorous morality tale, presented in a small, square,

cloth-covered picture book

format, is the third in publisher Little Owl’s series of fables by the author. The cartoon style illustrations by

Atefeh Maleki Joo match the wit of Rumi’s tale, adding clever touches, such as the depiction of an angry lion depleted of mane and tail. It is hard to imagine this book reaching the hands

28 Books for Keeps No.229 March 2018

of its target audience, other than as a gift, but it is welcome nevertheless to come across a fable from an Eastern philosophical

tradition, rather than

the usual Aesop range available.SR Rocking the System


Siobhan Parkinson, ill. Bren Luke, Little Island, 196pp, 9781910411964, £11.99 hbk

Rocking the System is subtitled Fearless and Amazing Irish Women who Made History and,

delivers exactly what the cover promises. twenty

The volume

women, from historical figures, beginning with Queen Maeve

illustrated essays on Irish of

Connacht, to contemporary achievers, with the final essay being about Sonia O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s most successful female athletes.


between the essays cover a range of significant and inspirational Irish women including activists, rebels, stateswomen,

artists, writers,

sportswomen and medical experts. The title references Mary Robinson’s famous speech on her election as first female President of Ireland. This book is written by Siobhan

Parkinson, the first Irish Children’s Laureate, aided by a research team of

published to celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage.

audience is young readers and its aim is to raise awareness of the remarkable

achievements of Irish

women and the extent to which their lives and opportunities have changed over the years and can continue to change in the future. Each essay features a detailed pen

and ink portrait of its subject drawn by Australian illustrator Bren Luke. The information is very accessible as each essay is short with an initial summary and dates, relevant quotes in boxes and a fact file at the end. The end result is an empowering and fascinating collection with an intriguing array of subjects. Although its main readership will inevitably be

“fellow-rockers”, and has been Its target

really, it contains

young people in Ireland this timely volume contains much to intrigue, inspire and enlighten any reader. SR

Make More Noise! HHH

Various, Nosy Crow, 280pp, 978-1-7880-0239-4, £7.99 pbk

An eclectic selection of ten stories published to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage from both award- winning and debut authors.


stories are based on real people, others are period pieces or set in contemporary times but each features strong women and girls who are determined to bring about change. The opening story by Sally Nicholls,

Out for the Count, is particularly resonant

featuring a mother and

her two daughters, the cook and the governess defying the 1911 census by camping out on the moors. M.G Leonard’s

story The Bug Hunters

features a pair of insect loving girls who defy the bullies in their class by showing there is nothing to fear from insects. Patrice Lawrence’s All Things Bright and Beautiful set in the Hackney slums is the vivid and heart- wrenching tale of two young sisters running the gamut of rent sharks and finally finding help and solace with a women’s rights campaigner from Lahore. A bright young girl working in service is inspired by the words on the green and purple WSPU tea service to

educate herself in Katherine

Woodfine’s Tea and Jam. Jeanne Willis’s story On Your Bike is set in Boston in 1894 where feisty Annie takes on a wager to prove that that a woman can cycle round the world and be as good as any man facing dangers, and shocking people by riding in her bloomers along the way. Some of the stories are a little

uneven in places but the scope and breadth of this excellent collection should

inspire young people

continue the fight for equality and for women’s voices to be heard.

to It

would be a useful starting point for discussion too. JC

14+ Secondary/Adult Rose Rivers HHHHH

Jacqueline Wilson, illus Nick Sharratt, Puffin Books, 463pp. 978-0-857-53516-0, £12.99 hbk

Rose Rivers is an upper class thirteen year old girl in Victorian London. She is the second oldest of seven children with a father who is a well-known artist and an invalid mother, whose illness is never explained and who may suffer most from self-indulgence. Her sister Beth has what we would now call Autistic Spectrum Disorder, but which was then of


undiagnosed. Rose has always aspired to an

education. Her father is a strong advocate of education for girls, but her mother is firmly opposed. Rose is also a passionate and skilled artist. The novel asks whether Rose can achieve either of her ambitions, and what affect her pursuit of those ambitions will have on her family. Rose’s father has a young male

protégé named Paris Walker. Paris comes to the Rivers house to make drawings of Mrs Rivers. Rose likes Paris and he takes an interest in her artistic work. Rival affections for this young man engender dangerous conflicts in the family circle. At the same time Mr Rivers hires a specialist nurse to look after Beth, since caring

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32