One of the highlights of 2019 for me personally has been making contact with Barrington Stoke with the intention of including Dyslexia Friendly titles on my blog. They have been welcoming and inclusive from the offset and are a credit to the world of Children’s publishing. There is relevance on a personal level as my niece has been diagnosed with Dyslexia and as she attends the school I work at I encourage her to choose books from the Barrington Stoke range during her library session – as with other children that attend the school, so connecting to the publishers and being able to follow the journey of their latest books being released has given my blog regular high quality content and been an absolute pleasure this year. Whilst waiting for next years Barrington Stoke titles I have created the following blog that contains a seven title shortlist of my favourite Barrington Stoke titles of 2019.
Owen and the Soldier
Author : Lisa Thompson, Illustrator : Mike Lowery
- Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020 : Best Story
As with other titles by author Lisa Thompson this story engrosses you from the offset as you read about Owen – a young boy who seems lonely and finds a unlikely companion in the form of a soldier statue in the local park which serves as a memorial to soldiers from the local area lost in World War One. The story is heart warming and inspiring given that Owen learns to believe in himself more when he learns that the soldier is being removed from the park and scrapped and decides to try and save him. As Owen grows in confidence and comes out of his comfort zone we learn more about how this all has such a huge personal significance to Owen and this ‘twist’ to the story makes this a story that you not only find yourself gripped and reading until the very end, but you also find yourself wishing there was more once you finish the book too. I was already a huge fan of Lisa Thompson (The Light Jar, Goldfish Boy) and this book confirms that she can create quality, depth filled novellas too.
It’s a No-Money Day
Author : Kate Milner
- Winner of 2018 Klaus Flugge Award for most promising newcomer to children’s book illustration.
This hugely significant book tells of a mother and child who use a food bank because irrespective of how they watch every penny and mum works incredibly hard too they have not got enough money to cover all of the necessities they need. Told through the eyes of the child who enjoys the adventures she has with her mum such as visiting the library and the food bank, seeing no difference in the two, no stigmas or shame – and quite rightly too, this book will give readers an understanding of the circumstances more and more families find themselves in, and does so without prejudice which is something the mum is concerned about. The activities that the girl and her mum do together as chosen as they are free and this book highlights how it is possible to make effort with the ones you love without spending a fortune and that children appreciate the time and attention given as reflected in the child’s appreciative behaviour. Poignant as well as significant, this book is a must read for all.
Good Dog McTavish (and other titles)
Author : Meg Rosoff Illustrator : Grace Easton
- McTavish Goes Wild
- McTavish Takes the Biscuit
- McTavish on the Move
A humour filled series that follows a rescue dog who comes into the lives of the Peachey family who live chaotic lives and seem to be the ones needing sorting out. When mum feels taken for granted she does what others mums only dream of, she goes on strike and consequently nobody knows what to do with themselves. As the series continues to McTavish Goes Wild we are taken along on a holiday adventure as the Peachey family head off camping, then in McTavish Takes the Biscuit we read about a culinary adventure when Pa Peachey decides to recreate the Palace of Versailles from gingerbread – which is not easy! In the latest McTavish novella the family move house as Pa Peachey gets a new job and it is down to McTavish to ensure everyone is happy to make the move and leave their lives as they know them behind and make a fresh start elsewhere. Each book tells of how McTavish choosing the Peachey family has left the rescue dog with so much responsibility and challenges along the way, but all of this is done in a fun, laughter filled way. The family are highly relatable to and children will have equal sympathy for McTavish and the children as they read of their antics. A great series to give to children looking for continuity in the books they choose from the school library or at home.
Author : Tom Palmer Illustrator : Tom Clohosy Cole
- The 2020 Grampian Children’s Book Award
- The Cheshire Schools Book Award 2020
- Cumbria Schools’ Library Service Primary Spellbinding shortlist
- Nottinghamshire ELS Brilliant Book Award longlist
Notorious for his fantastic stories that combine events and people in history with sports and hobbies, Tom Palmer is definitely one of my favourite authors when it comes to historical children’s fiction and this title maintains that style – with the story featuring World War Two and it being linked to gaming, something most children would list as their favourite hobby. Main character Jack enjoys gaming but has sacrificed some of his time to look after the dog he so badly wanted. When his dad includes him in a new electronic game that is themed around the normandy landings on d-day Jack is excited to share something his dad is passionate about and relates to them personally as his dad is in the army reserves, recently back from training. When it seems Jacks dad is being called up to potentially fight in Afghanistan initially Jack is excited and proud but the more Jack learns about war – both past (WW2) and present the more he becomes concerned and the more home life is impacted too. Jack is glad that his dog Finn offers some much needed consistency in a world that now seems so uncertain. The referencing to past and present wars makes this an incredibly interesting read that will grip readers – especially those reluctant readers that enjoy learning about warfare for which this is perfect. With the true story of Emile Corteil featuring in this story readers will feel inspired as they learn about the fate of a war hero who parachuted into Normandy with his dog.
Author : Cat Clarke
A Barrington Stoke title for YA audiences, Letting Go continues to stand out for me as a hugely inspiring novella as it contains both a bisexual and a lesbian as the main characters who reunite when Ellie expects Agnes to maintain a promise she made to her that she would accompany her to release ashes up a mountain side. Along with Ellie’s new boyfriend Steve the trio head off on a tense, argument filled journey that doesn’t start well and when the weather turns bad and the three of them are unprepared for the elements it continues to go from bad to a lot worse. This story details the dynamics and relationships both past and present which teenage readers will find relatable, realistic and reassuring too as it confirms that their own experiences are ‘normal’.
Features from authors of other fantastic titles that I have been fortunate to host on my blog in 2019 are –
It’s a No-Money Day Blog Tour – https://samjdthomas.home.blog/2019/10/21/blog-tour-its-a-no-money-day/
Sophie takes to the Sky – Guest Post by Katherine Woodfine – https://samjdthomas.home.blog/2019/09/18/sophie-takes-to-the-sky-guest-post-with-katherine-woodfine/
A Most Peculiar Toy Factory – Guest Post by Alex Bell – https://samjdthomas.home.blog/2019/09/09/a-most-peculiar-toy-factory-guest-post-by-alex-bell/
It has been such an amazing year to start my journey with Barrington Stoke, and I look forward to 2020 – when Jane Eyre is officially released ( see my blog here ) and no doubt so many more amazing reads too.