Wrapping Up Dyslexia Awareness Week with a round up of Barrington Stoke 2022 titles to date

As this years Dyslexia Awareness Week draws to a close we at BookBound wanted to share titles that have featured on our blog so far this year that have been published with Dyslexic children in mind in both content and design, and the fantastic Barrington Stoke publish just such books. The books are written by various talented children’s authors, for all age ranges, and even factor in reading levels of the intended reader too. I had to include fellow BookBound blogger, Helen Byles, review of one of her summer reads too, and we hope you find this round up as exciting and engaging as we found each of the titles that feature. Enjoy!

Noodle the Doodle Wins the Day

  • Written by Jonathan Meres
  • Illustrated by Katy Hatford

This is the third title in the Noodle the Doodle series, and it is just as incredible as the previous two have! This one focuses on an alternative sports day for the class, and they come up with some fantastic new activities for them all to do, including balancing books on their heads, fast paced dressing up, frisbee throwing, and a final task of tug of war. It looks like it will be a fun filled day for all involved, and the children use all of their breaktimes to practice.

When sports day comes round the day starts of raining, and the children are deflated by the prospect of sports day being cancelled, and all of their training being in vain, but Mr Reed the class teacher promises the afternoon will be dry and sunny, and the weather does improve – making it possible for their plans to go ahead. There are some hilarious antics that interrupt the flow of things courtesy of Noodle, the class dog, but ultimately sports day is a success for everyone involved because throughout the various stages of planning, preparing, and taking part in this special day in the academic calendar, the children overcome personal hurdles that impact their self esteem, self confidence, ability to work together, and so much more besides.

This stunningly illustrated, short chapter, adventure with a school theme, is perfect because children will have familiarity with sports day, whether it be as a spectator or a competitor, and will therefore kind it easier to envisage the context of this book, and all whilst falling in love with Noodle, who you will find yourself besotted with before the end!

Birdsong

  • Written by Katya Balen, winner of the 2022 Carnegie Award Medal
  • Illustrated by Richard Johnson

This is such a beautifully written story that features a young girl, Annie, who is struggling to adjust following a car accident that has left her with physical, emotional, and mental scars that need time, patience, and the support of those around her in order to heal. The biggest adjustment for Annie post accident has been that of her love of playing the flute. Music has been in her blood from a young age, and she became a talented flute player as a consequence, with lots of academic promise, but she has lost her confidence in playing, and her arm injury has left her frustrated. That is until she happens to stumble across Noah and the Blackbirds, tucked away amongst brambles near her new home that her and her mum have recently moved to.

The birds are nesting, and sing their own song whilst doing so, and Annie feels inspired, and feels a wave of calm wash over her. With Noah offering her support and encouragement, and the birds inspiring her with their perseverance (and song) even as they face their own dangers, Annie finds herself drawn to her flute, and is once again writing music of her very own.

This is such a heartfelt journey of healing and rediscovery, told through Annie, which readers will find as emotive as they do inspiring. The parallel of the Blackbirds going from singing as they build their nest to song-less following an attack from a Fox, and yet persevering and ultimately prevailing, to that of Annie’s journey following the car accident she was injured in, isn’t lost on the reader, and resonates all the more so as a consequence.

I love the silhouetted style illustrations, as they compliment the story beautifully by offering a soft and gentle feel, and the use of light and shadow in the pictures not only captivates you, but visually works well at representing the struggles Annie feels, and the relevance to her rediscovering music, and the pleasure and escapism she welcomes from it too.

Picture Perfect by Serena Patel

  • Illustrated by Louise Forshaw
  • Published on 7th July
  • Suitable for readers age 8+

The context of this story is one we can all relate to at times as it tells of a family that is all too often distracted by modern technology, and how it subsequently prevents the story’s main character, Sonal, from being able to take the perfect family photograph. Mum is often on the phone, dad is always replying to messages on his mobile, Sonal’s big sister is on her laptop trying to help with environmental causes, Sonal’s younger brother is always on his games console, and it is only Sonal and her Grandpa that are willing to achieve the family portrait that Sonal needs for a school project. Grandpa comes up with the perfect solution, a family camping trip with one rule – no technology! What could possibly go wrong?

Before they even head off Sonal finds her siblings are unhappy with her causing disruption to their weekend plans, and not being able to take their phones with them whilst they are away, but Sonal is reassured by Grandpa that once they are away it will all get so much better, because the family need some quality time together in order to remember how much fun they can have without modern tech. It doesn’t go smoothly however, with the family puppy at the centre of all the chaos. Readers can expect some really awesome laugh out loud moments as they accompany Sonal and her family on an unforgettable trip that proves that the perfect family photograph comes at the most unlikely of times as a consequence of unexpected circumstances, and also that those images we see on social media aren’t to be given the credit they are all too easily awarded, because they are often staged, which is something Sonal comes to appreciate first hand through a school friend that is camping at the same site as them.

The Battle of Cable Street by Tanya Landman

  • Published on 2nd June
  • Suitable for readers aged 12+

This is such an incredibly powerful and informative read, and it is difficult to believe it is literally only 128 pages long given there is so much detail and depth included in each and every chapter. The book tells of London pre World War Two, and the struggles Jewish people faced because those in positions of power, within the gentry and government, were ultimately trying to distract society from the fact that those in positions of power and trust were to blame for the poverty and unemployment facing everyone, and did so by setting people against one another by fuelling the fire of race and religion.

The main characters in the book are children, and it is their perception of events that are unfolding around them that form the narrative of this story, and give readers such invaluable perspectives from the many characters involved, allowing them to form their own judgements and opinions on this true event that they are reading of. Readers can anticipate scenes of violence during a rally, protests that unite entire communities, and an insight into historical figures and events that occurred in Britain post World War Two that have been forgotten in history books and lessons since. I was shocked by how much similarity there is between what happened here and what was unfolding in Germany via Hitler, and am so grateful for this eye opener of a story existing, especially as it has given me a starting point to further research through this compelling story that I have just read.

I couldn’t believe the antisemitism being pedalled by government figures in this country at a time when it was becoming more and more apparent abroad, and emphasise whole heartedly with those that faced such a scary part of our countries past, not least those that came here looking for safety and security, and found that which they had fled had accompanied them here too. There was so many elements to this book that hit a chord with current world affairs too, namely Russia invading Ukraine, and I found myself reflecting on more than just the events being written about. I appreciated the way that speeches and propaganda were broken down to a level that the intended reader could comprehend the sentiment intended, as I often struggle to grasp what it is that politicians are actually trying to push on the public.

I hope that this book is picked up by teachers and subject leads in secondary school, and used as a source of information in relation to WW2, the countries history, and past politics too, as this book would be an invaluable tool in starting debate and conversation, and so much more. Tanya Landman has shone a spotlight on an event in our history that shaped the lives of those involved, and changed the course of history, and it is a story that deserves to be known, and I for one am grateful for the opportunity to have learnt of the courageous tenants of cable street.

Helen (@helenbyles)

The Clockwork Queen

  • Illustrations by Lia Visirin
  • Published by Barrington Stoke

This is based on the true story of a machine called The Mechanical Turk.

In this book Sophie has inherited the love of chess from her father. After he is imprisoned by Catherine the Great, a ruler from the seventh century Sophie joins forces with friends to rescue her dad.

Using the Clockwork Queen they hatch a plan to rescue her father using chess as their secret weapon. 

As a non chess player I found this idea a really interesting concept. I have tried to learn to play chess before but I couldn’t get the hang of it. To make matters worse I even brought a chess book for kids home from my library, but even that didn’t help!

There were only a few characters in this book, which I always enjoy more. You are able to invest more in these characters, and you are able to recall more information about them. The illustrations bring the book to life,  as always you can see the pictures in your mind, but to have the illustrations brings the characters to life.

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