BfK 10 – 14 Middle/Secondary continued

effectively in this disturbing story as the appealing narrative voice of confident, determined, yet vulnerable, Effie contrasts with the darkness of the unravelling mystery with its sinister secrets and themes of loss and guilt. As Effie learns that one of the ‘Oldies’ is responsible for her Mum’s disappearance and death and that the monsters of the loch may have been sending the slugs to warn her of danger, she has to cope with feelings of grief and loss as well as guilt that she and her anxious, over-protective mother did not always get on. Effie is sustained throughout by her deep, close friendship with Finn and by the love of family and community.

mingling of mystery and reassurance creates an intriguing atmosphere that will keep readers hooked until the final revelations. Polly Ho-Yen has succeeded in

writing an unsettling book which packs quite an emotional punch in its short length.

respond to its mingling of mystery, scariness, fairy-tale-like atmosphere and realism whilst others may find the issues around Effie’s Mum’s disappearance and death and the unresolved tension between mother and daughter quite disturbing. This is a distinctive follow-on novel from the author of Boy in Tower.

SR The Secrets of Billie Bright HHHHH

Susie Day, Puffin, 304pp, 978-0-1413-7533-5, £6.99 pbk

Billie Bright, 11 years old and about to start secondary school, is the youngest member of ‘Team Bright’, her large, loud, loving family headed by Dad Splendide, who runs the cafe under their flat, and followed by her three angelically named

Billie’s eldest brother Gabriel is about to

leading to many bridesmaid related dilemmas for

Raphael is kind, gentle but completely unable to hold down a job for long and sweet third brother Michael is a would-be rugby star and unwitting girl- magnet. The missing member of the family is Billie’s Mum, who died when she was 5. Billie’s first big school task is to

complete a Hero Project on someone inspirational. Billie has no hesitation in choosing her Mum as her subject but why do her family members prove to be so secretive and unforthcoming when questioned about the Mum that Billie does not really remember. When Billie finally uncovers the secret and sadness

silence, the truth about her Mum’s rejection of Gabriel’s sexuality, Billie is devastated and it takes all the love, warmth and chaotic, heartfelt support of her family and friends to help her to see that she is surrounded by love and that her Mum just never had the chance to change her mind. This book is an absolute pleasure to read as the author

depicts the ups and downs of a loving circle of family and friends in a style

brilliantly behind this

marry his Ukrainian boyfriend, Billie, middle brother

older brothers. It will enthral children who This The tension builds gradually and

that is both sharply perceptive and laugh out loud funny. Billie is an endearing narrator, the characters, settings and situations are believable and contemporary, complex topics are tackled in a natural way without becoming ‘issues’ and inclusivity and diversity are a completely given part of the world of the story, not forced or unbelievable in any way. The author has described her books as being about ‘families, friendship, feelings and funny stuff’ and this is the perfect description of her latest title. It is an entertaining, moving, affirming, lively and readable story about the joys and sorrows of family life, friendships and the important transition

secondary school. The introduction of characters from Susie Day’s other books enhances the atmosphere of a wide, interlinked community. Highly recommended for all libraries. SR

How to be a Blogger and Vlogger in 10 Easy Lessons


Shane Birley, ‘Super Skills’, QED, 9781 784 934 552, 80pp £8.99 hbk

Blogs have become one of the most popular ways to share information online, but actually starting your own blog can feel like a major project. Seasoned

breaks the task down into simple steps to introduce the core skills needed to create a successful blog. From the

the need for safety online and of seeking parental permission. Many of the skills relate to literacy and creative writing – planning a story, brainstorming, making mind maps, finding your voice, identifying your audience. In fact all his tips on writing are valuable and relevant to a wide range of applications, such as writing by hand, finding time to write, not editing while you write, as are the tips on editing (don’t rely on spell check, read it out loud). The publisher suggests that the book is suitable for 8-10 year olds and the presentation certainly matches that, but the reality is that for most social media and blogging sites the user need to be 13 years of age or older. Introducing video into a blog requires additional skills such a thinking about the set, choosing moving or still images and lighting, as well as using video editing skills. Podcasts are another route, using audio only, with practical advice on location – apparently wardrobes make great recording booths. Advice on where to post your blog and how to upload vlogs is included, as well as how to share posts.

steps deal with tackling problems – how to trouble shoot, deal with trolls and blogging etiquette. Birley’s final words sum it up nicely: ‘whatever you blog about, good luck, be brave, enjoy, and most of all, be you!’

SU The later outset he emphasises blogger Shane Birley to

Lydia. The wild girl of Pride & Prejudice


Natasha Farrant, Chicken House, 978-1910002971, 285pp, £7.99 pbk

It is a brave author who takes on a classic; it very rarely works. Natasha Farrant has boldly decided to enter the world

she succeed? She does. In the first place she is careful not to be Jane Austen. The period setting is lightly handled,

contemporary without are

Rather she takes Lydia who, though important,

appear for much of the original. Even so her character is very definite - and Farrant takes advantage of this to develop her for a modern audience who will meet someone they can recognise – a teenager rebellious, independent, often naive but also resourceful. By using the diary format, the reader steps into Lydia’s life. It is a technique that is admirably suited to the story Farrant tells; she takes the period that Lydia is off stage and fills it in while cleverly embedding it inside Austen’s plot. She remains true to the original characters – but seen through the eyes of an exasperated and exasperating younger sister. Wickham is well presented, not an out and out vilain – but very much as Lydia says “a gambler and a chancer”, a charmer – as she is. Would there have been Lydias in Austen’s world? Indeed, yes, just think of Becky Sharp. A terrific romp and a great antidote to

nevertheless does

plot. not

FH central her dialogue

does she focus on the characters that

to Austen’s

refreshingly jarring. Nor

of Jane Austen. Does

fearsome Terra Firma, rulers of the seas and the drowned lands around them.

ruthless and vicious megalomaniac spreading terror with his Fearzero fleet of ships and intent on wiping out any trace of the resistance movement that had attempted to assassinate him. Halflin looks after the boy anyway and manages to conceal him for thirteen years.

rescued by a young boy Gulper and brought to live with other abandoned children presided over by the creepy Nile and Mrs Leach. While climbing one of the sea platforms Fenn spots a boat sailing in on the sly.

hopeful of escape but discovers the boat is not what it seems and they are all to be sold to child traffickers. The gang of children outsmart the crew and take the boat to find a new life on the marshes. They are chased by the Terra Firma’s huge ship Warspite which ploughs through the Shanties but they manage to evade capture. Fighting off wolves and desperate

He is people. He is Their leader Chilstone is a

are on to him and so Fenn embarks on a life on the run. He ends up in the Shanties living by his wits, dodging thieves and the terrifying roustabouts rumoured to eat

Now the authorities

to get back to his home Fenn discovers his beloved grandfather is dead. He finds a tiny gold key hidden in his grandfather’s shack, symbol of the resistance fighters and realises what he must do. He insists his friends leave him as he might put them in danger and sets fire to the beacon hoping this will alert any resistance fighters out there. The story ends on a cliff-hanger with Fenn alone but waiting for his destiny to be fulfilled. This near-future


uncompromising marshy landscape is temendously

pervades the whole novel.

the half-drowned and atmospheric

reluctant hero at the start but grows in strength and stature throughout. At times his tale is almost too bleak and painful but his resilience and determination shine through helped along the way with a cast of colourful and imaginative oddballs. The plot moves along at breakneck speed with chases and danger at every turn so it is somewhat frustrating to be left dangling at the end, albeit in a hopeful way.

JC A Very Good Chance HHHHH

the many teen novels full misery. Very much recommended – and maybe it will introduce new readers to the ultimate classic, Pride and Prejudice.

Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero HHH

Francesca Armour-Chelu, Walker Books, 298pp, 978-1-4063-6312-8, £6.99 pbk

A baby is miraculously pulled from a sinking tugboat by a weather-beaten shipbreaker, Haflin. But as Halflin discovers he is no ordinary child; he is the seaborn son of former leaders of the resistance.

a baby they will both be killed by the 28 Books for Keeps No.220 September 2016 If Hafflin is found with

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Orion Children’s Books, 192pp, 978-1-4440-1478-5, £6.99 pbk

This poetic little book is a gem. It is firmly rooted in the real world, deals with the sort of issues which pre-occupy young

the reader along in the story and is written in a fluid, lyrical style. Minty lives in Dublin and her world is disintegrating around

people, races

parents have separated acrimoniously and her father is determined to marry his new, much younger woman immediately. Her mother is exuding a brittle that

cannot discuss their problems with her. She needs a distraction from this

unadulterated grimness and her. Her

cheerfulness, determined nothing is wrong, so Minty

Fenn is a and story is rich in

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