Eggcellent books

With Easter coming we’ve turned our books pages over to 15-year-old Evie Elderfield, and other school children, who unearth some real treasures for kids

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Younger kids

Hat Tricks 
Satoshi Kitamura (Scallyway, £11.99)
With all the animals kids love as well as a clear pattern, Hat Tricks follows Hattie and her magic hat as more and more animals come out of it. As well as teaching young kids all about different types of animals with big bright explosive pictures, it’s an amazing, happy story.

Tiny T.Rex and the Impossible Hug 
Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck (Chronicle, £10.99)
Perhaps the sweetest story ever! Tiny, despite his tiny arms, needs to learn how to hug his friend Pointy to cheer him up and no matter what people say he won’t stop trying to learn. A tale of perseverance and love that spreads the message of just how far one hug can take someone.

Fantastically Great Women Who Worked Wonders
Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, £6.99)
This inspirational book is filled with exactly the sort of stories young boys and girls need to be hearing about. It demonstrates how far the struggle for equal rights has come and how a woman who puts her mind to something is just as strong as any man.

Meet The Pirates
James Davies (Big Picture Press, £9.99)
A book on every child’s favourite sea buccaneers, full of clever and colourful drawings that tell with historical accuracy the terrifying tales of the much loved phenomenon through the years, from the fearsome Black Beard to terrifying female pirates. Meet the Ancient Greeks is another new addition to this entertaining educational series.

The Wall in the Middle of the Book
John Agee (Dial, £11)
The story of a knight who believes his side of the wall is the safest until danger strikes and he gets rescued by someone who he originally thought was his enemy. The idea of a wall in the middle of the book makes this story a fun, unique one filled with colourful illustrations.

Ximo Abadia (Templar, £11.99)
I read this book with my mummy. The name of the book is Toto. It is about a donkey that wants to be an astronaut. Toto is sad because he wants to be an astronaut. Toto gave up his dream. Then he met a lady who kindly let him be an astronaut. The book made me feel sad but happy at the end. My favourite thing about the book was the happy ending on the moon. The pictures are wonderful and I want to draw some like that.
Anaya Stack, aged 5

Older kids

Ada Twist and the Perilous Pantaloons
Andrea Beaty and David Robers (Amulet Books, £8.99)
Ada Twist Scientist joins her classmate Rosie Revere Engineer in getting her very own instalment in the Questioneers series. When Ada’s uncle’s famous helium pants put him in danger she needs to use her scientific mind to help him out. This adventurous book is not only set out in a notebook format that allows the reader to join in, it also includes cute drawings and scientific facts that make it a great read for young minds.

Vote For Effie
Laura Wood (Scholastic, £6.99)
As the new girl at school Effie Kostas has every right to be terrified but, after an argument with full-of-himself class president Aaron Davies, Effie decides she should be the one in power. Through her campaigning Effie makes it known nothing can stop her and she makes some great friendships along the way. It’s a clever, powerful and inspiring book that teaches more than some teachers are able to.

How to Rob a Bank
Tom Mitchell (HarperCollins Children’sBooks, £6.99)
Robbing a bank may not be the first thing you think of after you burn down the house of the girl you’re trying to impress but for Dylan Thomas it’s a goal he refuses to give up. With help from his sister Rita, Dylan begins to plan his heist. A hilarious, gripping and unique story, I really enjoyed the book.

Feminism Is…
DK Children, £9.99
When so many books for kids offer inspirational tales of feminism, and with movements like This Girl Can and #MeToo reaching young audiences it’s worthwhile getting to grips with the fundamentals. This book explores important questions like is gender fixed? And are girls born or made? It’s a must-read for every young girl and boy.

Young adults

True Sisters
Karen David (Barrington Stoke, £6.99)
Foster child Clara, who has been locked away from the world for a long time, struggles to adjust to life with Ruby and her mum. The girls grow closer but Ruby struggles with friendships and her identity. True Sisters is a heartwarming story about rebuilding your life, the power of family and facing up to who you are. A beautiful book.

The New Boy
Paula Rawsthorne (Scholastic, £7.99)
Zoe always said she was determined not to let boys get in the way of her life at college and at first she sticks to that with handsome, clever and kind Jack Cartwright. Yet as she gets closer to him he doesn’t appear as perfect as she first thought. This book explores the dangers of modern technology and what really makes someone human – themes of huge relevance today.

Becoming Jo
Sophie McKenzie (Scholastic, £6.99)
Becoming Jo is a modern retelling of Little Women set in the present day. The sisters many love so well go through the twists and turns of life, argue and make up, but this time it is all told from Jo’s perspective. With the same storylines and relationships the classic is famous for, it’s also got many twists that make this a more relatable story of feminism and family.

Agent Without License
Andrew Lane (Piccadilly Press, £6.99)
The first in the new AWOL series follows Kieron and his friend Sam who until now have thought of themselves as forgotten “greebs”. After witnessing an abduction in the mall they find sunglasses and a wireless earpiece and begin communicating with Bex, a agent of SIS-TERR in India. They are thrown into a world of secrecy, murder and spying in what becomes a tense and gripping read.

Author Q&A: Sabina Khan
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali (Scholastic, £7.99)

Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana can’t wait to leave her conservative parents’ house and be herself but when she’s caught kissing her girlfriend her life is thrown off course and she’s shipped off to Bangladesh. There, immersed in a world of tradition and arranged marriages, Rukhsana finds the perspective she’s been looking for in her grandmother’s old diary. The only question left for her to answer is: can she fight for the life she wants without losing her family in the process?

Because of your interfaith marriage you received criticism from friends and family. How did that experience shape you and the family dynamic in the story?
It was painful to be judged by friends and family for marrying outside my religious community and I carried that pain for many years. But I decided a long time ago to stay true to myself and make decisions that I can live with rather than caving in to the pressure of other people’s expectations. I have raised my daughters in the same way, teaching them to trust their instincts and believe that they have the right to make their own decisions when it comes to who they want to be with. All the hurt and sadness I experienced made it into the story, specifically into Rukhsana’s feelings about how her parents react to her sexuality. I have learned that the pain of rejection and prejudice hurts exactly the same, whether it is based on religion, sexuality or race. I wanted to tackle all of that through Rukhsana’s experiences, not only with her parents but also with Ariana and her childhood friends.

Considering negative events we hear about in the media – from President Trump failing to recognise Pride month two years in a row to possibly losing a major act of legislation protecting the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination in Brexit – how important is it to have literature that spreads acceptance and love of the LGBTQ+ community?
All teens have the right to feel seen and to be accepted for who they are. Stories which centre around them and their experiences are a great way to do that. Such stories also foster empathy because when we are allowed to gain insight into the lives of those different from ourselves it helps us look past our differences and focus on what’s important.

Alongside your writing you’re an education consultant and have a family. Is it a difficult balancing act and do you have any tips for young aspiring writers who struggle to find time to write alongside their studies?
It’s definitely not easy to balance work and family alongside a writing dream. But when you make time for something you love, it can become reality and is infinitely rewarding. My advice for aspiring writers is to keep pushing onwards and to be kind to yourself. Be mindful of what you need and allow yourself to make your writing a priority. Also, find yourself a community of like-minded people who support your ambitions.

Rukhsana’s friends and girlfriend in Seattle seem to struggle to understand aspects of her culture, particularly her fears of coming out and the pressures she faces. What was the message you wanted to give you readers?
It can be difficult to realise that friends you’ve known since childhood and who should know you well sometimes don’t really understand what you’re going through on a daily basis. I wanted readers to understand the experiences of diaspora kids who often straddle two or more cultures and find themselves having to explain or justify their feelings. Rukhsana’s friends are quite dismissive about her fear of being outed to her parents, because they have no inkling of just how dangerous and precarious life can be for queer teens of colour.

Rukhsana’s community plays a major role in her life. Did you have a community like this growing up?
I spent the first eight years of my life in a small town in Germany in the early 1970s and my family was the only South Asian family there. For the next 18 years I lived in Bangladesh and, like Rukhsana, I had to try and live up to my parents’ high expectations. But because I was surrounded by other teens who were in the same situation it wasn’t quite the same environment as Rukhsana finds herself in where she is one of a few South Asian teens in her community and thus has a different kind of homelife than her other friends.

Do you have plans for another book? 
I am currently working on another young adult contemporary in which
I tackle Islamophobia and immigration. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more on that soon, but for now that’s all I’m allowed to say.

Thank you so much for having me!

Year six children from St John Vianney primary school in Blackpool review some more new releases

Welcome to Planet Omar
Zanib Main (Hodder, £6.99)
An Islamic family moves house to a different place which means a new school, new neighbours, new everything for Omar. His first day at his new school arrives and he gets chills. Soon he makes his first friend – Charlie – and comes across a bully – Daniel. On a trip to science museum Omar and Daniel get lost which leads to them making friends in time to enjoy Eid together.
I liked this book because I learnt a lot from this Islamic family and I love diaries so this is one of my favourite books that I’ve read. There were a bunch of funny parts but my favourite part was learning all about Eid. I’s recommend it for learning about different beliefs.
Zuzanna L
Read Zanib Main’s column on the importance of making more BAME characters in children’s literature here

Against All Gods
Maz Evans (Chicken House, £6.99)
Elliot Hooper has to find the fire stone – the last of the four chaos stones. He gives it to Thanatos – the baddie of the story – and together they save Virgo. When the mortal world turns bad, it’s up to him to save that too.

My favourite part of this books was when Virgo tried to save Elliot. It teaches that friendship is very important and you need to value it. It’s very funny and made me laugh out loud.
Anugraha P

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs
Fiona Robinson (Abrams, £12.99)
When Anna is very young her mother dies, leaving her father to look after her. She grows to follow the ways of her father and becomes a very clever girl. She had only ever shown her dad the wonderful things she had produced before the invention of photography which allowed Anna to show the whole world her book.

I loved this book. Not only is it fun to read but it’s easy to follow too. I found this book very moving – Anna made me feel strong and inspired – and I’m so glad I found it. I hope I have the chance to read another book like this. I recommend this book for anyone. Younger children can admire the beautiful pictures while older children can read it.
Maria R

Asha and the Spirit Bird
Jasbiner Bilan
(Chicken House, £6.99)
Asha and her friend Jeevan have to climb mountains and go through tough times but in the end they find Asha’s papa. I enjoyed reading this book soooo much. It was a mixture of heart warming and heart-breaking. I loved it. My favourite part was when Asha’s papa pushes Meena away because they get their home back. There were some scary part in it, like when Asha had to fight off the tiger.
Lizzy W

Harry Kane – England’s Hero
Frank Worrall (John Blake, £8.99)
This book is about footballer Harry Kane and how he’s faced hardships. What happened is he got picked by Tottenham but he couldn’t make it. He was determined to get there and in the end he did.

I loved this book my favourite part was when he got to play for England in the 2018 World Cup. There were some funny bits where his friends joke around with him. I like Harry Kane, he made me feel motivate and determined to never give up.
Aiden V

The Dog Who Saved The World
Ross Welford (Harper Collins, £6.99)
The story is in the perspective of Georgie. She is a likeable character. She is adventurous and tries to make things right.

When Georgie accidentally spreads the dog plague she has to make it right. When Dr Pretorius suffers from a heart attack, Georgie, Ramzy and Clem have to grab the cure.

I loved the book. It was full of exciting comedy. My favourite part was when Georgie got stung by the scorpion. It was hilarious. I just want to read on.

I would recommend this book to everyone. I think they should be aged six-plus.
James T

Ultimate Superstars: Ariana Grande
Liz Gogerly (Studio Press Books, £5.99)
The book is all about Ariana Grande’s life so far and how she became famous. It contains her thoughts and emotions. I found it very interesting. It talks about her early life, in which she entertained her family with impersonations. It then moves on to explain her work on TV and her first album.

I really enjoyed this book, because it explained how Ariana Grande became so famous. It was funny when she spent time with her family and filmed for Victorious and Sam and Cat, but very sad when it talked about the bombing while she was on tour. I thought it was well written.

I would recommend it to Ariana Grande fans as it tells you about her feelings throughout her career.
Katy G

The Eleventh Trade
Alyssa Hollingsworth (Macmillan, £6.99)
It was fun for me to read, because I was finding out new things, and this book taught me to never give up. They lose an instrument but manage to find it at the end of the book.

The characters are mostly good but there is one who is bad and tries to steal things. I like most of them but not the robber. They make me feel good about myself.

I liked mostly all of the parts in the book. My favourite part was when they found the thing that they had lost at the start of the book. There wasn’t really any scary or funny parts but there is a good aspect to it.

I do recommend the book because it teaches people to never give up on things that they love.
Lewis H

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