As a school librarian I’m often asked for help from parents for reluctant and struggling readers. Book by Barrington Stoke usually spring to mind. We have a large selection of them in the school library because I’m such a huge fan of how accessible they are to all children. All of these books are specifically designed to help support children who may struggle to develop good literacy skills for a variety of different reasons such as dyslexia or simple reluctance to want to read. They are often my first choice of read when choosing a book to read with children during their library sessions. Not only that, they feature a wide range of great authors and am delighted to share three new releases with you on the blog today.
I’ve been a big fan of Tom McLaughlin since my blog began over five years ago, so I was thrilled to discover he was bringing his talent for comedy to Barrington Stoke. In ‘Queen of King Street,’ we see the royal family booted out of Buckingham Palace after a rogue hand in Happy Families by the hapless and consistently unlucky Bertie. Horrified to be penniless and disliked by their neighbours after years of frivolous spending and being (seemingly) adored by the public, the family are forced to find a way to survive. But trying to forge a new life is somewhat tricky when you’re the most famous family in the land. Packed with Tom’s trademark, irresistible combination of slapstick and subtle humour he entertains and amuses the reader with their bizarre shenanigans. The characterisation is absolutely superb and brilliantly satirical, I particularly love the Queen whose complete lack of knowledge about ‘real life,’ brought tears to my eyes, I was laughing so much. While this is a complete laugh-out-loud read it does remind us that we can’t always recognise what the important things are in our life until we don’t have them anymore and they might not be what you expect them to be. A triumph of chaotic and comedic storytelling.
Blue Peter Book Award winner Vashti Hardy is renowned for creating the most fantastically imagined worlds full of the unexpected, so I was intrigued to see how she would bring the world of Moreland to life in just over a hundred pages. Yet somehow she still manages to conjure up a vivid world – where the wardens of Moreland protect their people wit the use of teleport technology and the Griffin map – in this thrilling and fast-paced story. Grace is desperate to be a warden like the rest of her family but she is too young to go on missions. When she finds herself alone and a distress call comes in, she can’t resist the temptation to prove her family wrong but unwittingly she finds herself in a desperate and dark situation. Can she find a way to outwit the despicable villain? Exciting and mysterious, this story is completely compelling and I absolutely raced through it. It’s a perfect of Vashti’s signature style with an intriguing mix of monsters, mechanicals and brave characters. I have to mention Natalie Smillie’s glorious illustrations which wonderfully enhance the story building the drama and tension as it unfolds. I particularly love the illustration with the Griffin map, it helps the reader imagine this magical creation. A wonderful collaboration and I can’t wait to read their next adventure, ‘The Puffin Portal.’
Following on from the success of her first Barrington Stoke title, the wonderful and moving, ‘Owen and the Soldier,’ Lisa is back with another thoughtful tale. In, ‘The House of Clouds,’ we meet Tabby whose life has been disrupted since her Grandad moved in with them, he takes up too much room and treats her like a baby sharing silly made-up stories. The absolute worst thing is she has to walk his stinky dog Buster and one day as she tries to stay out of her sight from her former friends, she spots a mysterious and empty house on top of a cliff. Inside she spies something very strange hidden under an old sheet. Spooked by what she sees, she can’t help mentioning it to her Grandad who tells her a fantastical story that she knows can’t possibly be true. But when tragedy strikes, Tabby is forced to consider that for once her Grandad may have been telling the truth. A beautiful and heart-warming story of families and loss. Lisa gives us a real insight into the mind of Tabby as she struggles to come to terms with the changes in her life. By sprinkling a layer of imagination and wonder in this story, it allows a ray of happiness to shine through and binds Grandad and Tabby together in this shared and magical secret. A truly heart-warming and special story brought to life by Alice McKinley’s gentle and warm illustrations. Another absolute joy of a story from Lisa Thompson.
Thanks to Kirstin and Barrington Stoke for sending me gifted copies of these lovely books. You can buy all of them online now (click on the title to buy) or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local bookshop, you can find your nearest one here.