Summer 2015 Round-Up by Imogen Russell-Williams

Still recovering from YALC – I hope people saw our live tweets over the weekend! – so apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days! We WILL be bringing you a bit about the highlights of the convention soon, but today, we’re delighted to have a summer round-up from the wonderful Imogen Russell-Williams with some of the best books to look out for!

Hamish and the Worldstoppers by Danny Wallace (Simon and Schuster)

Hamish’s dad has gone missing – but that’s not the end of his problems. The world, and everything in it, has started pausing; all except Hamish. Why is he able to ‘pause-walk’ when his friends – and enemies – stay stopped? What’s causing the pausing? And will Hamish ever find his dad? Described by a ten-year-old pal as ‘the best book ever’, Wallace’s blend of outrageous toilet humour, spine-tingling scares and heartfelt emotion guarantees surefire appeal for readers of about eight and up.

The Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine (Egmont)

Sophie, a brave, bright girl in reduced circumstances, works at the newly-opened Sinclair’s, most luxurious and well-appointed of department stores. But when a priceless artefact goes missing and a body is discovered, Sophie must join forces with elegant mannequin Lilian and young porter Bill to clear her name and bring the true villain to light…A meticulously researched Edwardian setting, a dauntless, delightful heroine, and a compelling central mystery make this lovely novel an instant, understatedly sophisticated classic.

Demolition Dad by Phil Earle (Orion)

Jake Biggs’ dad is a demolition man by day – and a secret wrestling star by night. But Jake wants him to reveal himself, in all his Lycra-clad prowess. When the opportunity arises for his dad to enter an international wrestling competition, how can they resist? A funny, unexpectedly touching, warm and loving story – and a must for wrestling fans!

We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (Andersen)

Thirteen-year-old Stewart is clever, eccentric and socially clueless. When he acquires a fashionable new step-sister, Ashley, their new relationship is bound to cause conflict. Stewart is still grieving for his mum, and not Ashley is already panicking in case the reason for her parents’ separation gets out – having ‘Spewart’ related to her is the last thing she needs. They have only one thing in common – they’re both made of molecules…Hilarious, light-touch exploration of some hard-hitting issues – love, grief and the desire to fit in – told in two compelling voices.

In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll (Faber)

When Alice’s brother gets the chance for a life-saving heart transplant, Alice is instantly packed off to stay with her remote, forbidding grandmother, Nell. The only consolation is the eerie but enticing Darkling Wood at the bottom of the garden – but Nell intends to have the wood cut down, even though Alice’s friend Flo has told her that there are fairies there. Who is Flo, anyway? No-one at the local school has heard of her – and neither has the Traveller community. Could she be – a ghost? Delicately poignant and evocative story of belief, love, and sorrow, in which Caroll skilfully interweaves the Cottingley fairies and a WW1 story with compelling contemporary narrative.

Panther by David Owen (Constable and Robinson)

Not for the faint-hearted, this powerful debut investigates the effect of depression on sufferers’ families, pulling no punches as it does so. Derrick’s eating has spiralled out of control; he’s in love with a girl he has no hope of pulling; and it’s all his sister’s fault – her depression fills their home like a heavy, toxic mist. Now there are rumours that a great black cat is terrorising Derrick’s neighbourhood. If he captures the beast, surely he’ll be able to tame everything else – won’t he? An unsettling, difficult, profoundly important novel.

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson (Walker)

I’ll Give You The Sun is a simply huge novel, stuffed full of ideas about identity, love, art and grief. Twins Noah and Jude are everything to each other until jealousy, tragedy and betrayal wrench them apart. Only beating their own paths, discovering who they are, what they want to make, and who they love, can bring them together again. Original, ambitious and full of richness and colour, from the author of The Sky Is Everywhere.

Remix by Non Pratt (Walker)

Seventeen-year-old Kaz and Ruby, best mates and newly single, are going to the hottest music festival of the summer. What could possibly go wrong? An anarchic, hilarious paean to friendship, music and epic mistake-making, with pitch-perfect teen voices throughout.

One by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

No-one but Sarah Crossan could tell the story of conjoined twins in a verse novel, and move her readers to the heart by doing so. Grace and Tippi have never been apart – and never been to school, until now. But the money for home-schooling has run out, and, for the first time, the girls find themselves in mainstream education. How will they manage? Will they make friends? And what will happen when Grace falls ill? Wholly unique, and full of beauty.

Gypsy Girl by Kathryn James (Walker)

Sammy Jo is determined to give her sister the wedding of her dreams, Swarovski-crusted, silk-draped – and incredibly expensive. That means sneaking out nightly to her secret second life as a cage-fighter – strictly forbidden by Sammy Jo’s dad. Her troubles don’t end by day, either. She and her family face prejudice, abuse, and even violence from anti-Traveller bigots, especially in Langton, where they’re staying for Martha’s wedding. When Sammy Jo catches the attention of a posh local boy, it’s bound to end in tears…

A highly original story, with a fantastically determined and unusual heroine – a fierce fighter who revels in both her strength and her beauty.

Joe All Alone by Joanna Nadin (Little, Brown)

When Joe’s mum and her hated boyfriend Dean go off on holiday, leaving thirteen-year-old Joe by himself in their flat, he thinks he’ll be all right – that they’ll be back soon. But they don’t come back…and now the money’s running out…Deeply poignant, deceptively simple, this book will cut the reader to the bone almost without their realising it.

Imogen Russell Williams is a children’s and YA critic, writing for the Guardian, the Metro and Books for Keeps, among others. She is also an editorial consultant, and tweets as @imogenrw.

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