Short Stories in the Summer Sun

If you are looking for shorter, quicker reads to enjoy over the Summer, whether it is recreational reading or for the Summer Reading Challenge 2019 then look no further for here is a selection of worthy titles for you to enjoy.

The Curse of the School Rabbit

Told in the narrative of Tommy, a young boy in the family whose luck seems to change entirely the moment they agree to take in the school rabbit when young sister Angie’s teacher asks them to look after it so she can go look after her poorly mum. Tommy’s dad is an actor and can sometimes suffer a dry spell in job offers but since they took in the rabbit it seems to Tommy as though there is nothing for Tommy’s dad to do and the knock on effect financially is a concern for Tommy as he has his heart set on a new bike for Christmas.

Tommy becomes even more convinced the school rabbit has jinxed them when his little sister Angie becomes severely ill and has the entire family worried as to whether she will make a full recovery. It is a fantastic concept to write this story entirely from the perspective of the older child in the family and show how much children are aware of family dynamics and their perception on issues that have an impact too. The accusation of the school rabbit being responsible is totally childlike, and Tommy continues to blame the rabbit directly when it escapes the family garden and he has to go in search of it as Angie’s teacher is arriving the next day to collect it.

No sooner has Tommy collected the rabbit it seems the family’s fortunes change as issues that were hugely relevant get resolved and the book has a much deserved happy ending, not least because throughout the entire book Tommy has worked hard taking care of the rabbit, which took him completely out of his comfort zone, so that he was making a contribution to the family, as such Tommy makes for a brilliant role model to children reading the book, and regardless of this being a short story it has all the depth of an amazing adventure story for young readers to enjoy.

Published by Harper Collins on 11th July, priced at £12.99 (HB). More information can be found here.

The Dog Who Lost His Bark

This story is told through the eyes of a dog from his time as a puppy with his mum and siblings through to him finding his forever home. Excited to experience the outside world and all it has to offer but he didn’t expect the abusive behaviour he received and then to be abandoned too so when he is found and put into an animal shelter he has no interest in being taken home again. Then Patrick comes into the story who along with his mum stays with his Grandad over the summer break. When his parents relationship ends his mother distracts him by offering him the opportunity to get a dog. Patrick doesn’t officially know that his parents have separated but has his suspicions which fade when he chooses a dog from the shelter and names him Oz.

Oz takes time to trust Patrick but through perseverance and patience they get to know one another and a bond forms. When Patrick’s grandad notes that Oz is whining along to musical notes being played within the house he teaches music it gives Patrick an idea, and he grabs his violin and plays for Oz who joins in too. The relationship builds and they overcome boundary after boundary with each other until it dawns on Patrick that in having Oz he is restricting his dads ability to come home from his tour as his dad has allergies, so Patrick makes the difficult decision to take Oz back so his Dad can come home. It is only after a long overdue conversation with his mum that Patrick realises his dad will definitely not be coming home to them and that he misses Oz immensely so when the pair are reunited the story ends happily for all involved, which is everything the reader has advocated from the very start when we join this beautiful, sweet tempered dog on the most emotional of journeys. In the early part of the story we are so sad for the dog and all that he endures, hopeful that he will be saved and find a better home. When he meets Patrick our hopes become pinned on Oz finding his bark again which is all that his new owner focuses on. Patrick is a kind, gentle, and patient boy who is the perfect owner for Oz. The two compliment each other well and offer each other the distractions they require.

Published by Walker Books on 1st August, priced at £6.99 (PB). More information can be found here.

Where Dani goes, happy follows

This is the story of a young girl Dani who gets separated from her best friend Ella when she moves away. Dani is keen to find a way to see Ella again and convinces her grandparents to trust her to travel alone to Ella’s town so she can surprise her for her birthday. Ella’s mum has agreed to it also and intends to meet Dani at the train station, but when Dani arrives nobody is there waiting to greet her and then some boys steal her phone when she uses it to call her dad’s ex girlfriend Sadie who lives there as she maybe able to help. When Sadie gets to Dani she sees that Dani is poorly and insists on taking her safely home, they travel back to the grandparents house and it becomes apparent Dani is really unwell and she is put to bed. Some honest conversation between Dani and Sadie leads to significant revelations and the pair become close, like a mother and daughter.

Published by Gecko Press on 5th March, and more information can be found here.

Secret Weapon

Featuring seven individual short Alex Rider themed stories this book is a fantastic way to introduce readers to the teenage MI6 agent created by Anthony Horowitz and admired by generations the world over. Originally four of these stories were written to feature in newspapers and then Anthony was asked to create three additional stories, combining them all into a book. For avid fans this book couldn’t come quick enough but there is a priceless opportunity provided by this book for those new to the series too and that is each one of these short stories giving the reader a glimpse into the world of all things Alex, and for many it provides just enough to not overwhelm them in length but has all the quality and depth of a full title and encourages them to take the leap into this series too.

With a story that gives a perhaps long overdo look into the personal life of Smithers who provides gadgets to Alex, a story that features a man with six fingers, and a story about Alex being kidnapped and given a truth serum to name a few, there is so much secret service relevant adventuring to be enjoyed within this collection and each has the perfect balance of depth and excitement. Alex being a young boy makes his character relatable to readers who venture into the world of junior spies, saving the world, good versus evil and gadgets galore alongside him and look to discover who is bad, what there intentions are and mostly importantly how they can be stopped. With the 20th anniversary of Stormbreaker – the first Alex Rider full title on the horizon it is easy to see why this series is such a success now as much as it was then.

Published by Walker Books on 4th April 2019, priced at £12.99 (HB). More information can be found here

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