Great reads for teens and younger children .jpg

Great reads for teens and younger children

THE DOYENNE of children’s literature, Jacqueline Wilson, has two new books out this month, one in paperback and one in hardback. But first, two other titles aimed at the teen reader, published by Walker Books, deserve a mention.

Forged In the Fire by Ann Turnbull is the powerful sequel to the highly acclaimed No Shame, No Fear. The first title in the series was short-listed for both the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2004, when the author’s use of plain, exact and elegant language was highly commended.

The sequel, set in London in 1665-66, with the plague raging and the scent of smoke upon the wind, shows Will and Susanna, separated by class and distance, struggling to re-unite. Will has become a Quaker and has cut all ties with his father. Leaving Susanna behind in Shropshire, he travels to London, swearing to send for her once he is settled. But Will is arrested and thrown in jail for standing up for his beliefs. This, along with the rapidly spreading plague and a dire misunderstanding, conspire to keep them apart.  A powerful story about how love and belief can overcome even the most terrifying twists of fate, this beautifully written tale will capture the imaginations of readers of all ages. Aimed at the 12 plus age group, it is well-written, exciting and satisfying. In paperback, price 11 euros.

The Dream Merchant by Isabel Hoving, on the other hand, is an ambitious, thought-provoking, epic fantasy adventure. Josh Cope is just an average boy. So why is an international corporation so convinced that he is the key to conquering their new market, the past? Drawn into a whirlwind adventure, Josh finds himself in the middle of a nightmare, caught in “Umaya”, a place between dreams and reality. To find his way back, Josh and his friends must follow a trail that takes them through many adventures, through magical and intriguing worlds, to the core of human nature and to the furthest ends of time itself.

Isabel Hoving is a Dutch academic and lecturer who won the 2003 Golden Kiss Award, Holland’s most prestigious children’s book prize. The Dream Merchant is her first work of fiction and is already a major hit in Holland. Also aimed at the 12 plus reader, it is available in paperback at 12.50 euros.

Jacqueline Wilson’s new hardback for nine to 11-year-olds is called Candyfloss. Floss’s parents split up when she was younger and she now divides up her week between the two, spending five days with her mum, her mum’s new boyfriend and her new baby half-brother, and the other two days with her dad, helping him to run his greasy spoon café. But their simple arrangement is thrown into disarray when Floss’s mum decides to move to Australia for six months. Floss has to choose whether to go with her or stay with her dad. Needless to say, she picks her dad and they muddle along happily together, surviving on chip butties and enjoying visits to the local funfair. But disaster strikes when dad’s money troubles catch up with him and they have to move out of the café. They’re homeless – but can their new fairground friends help out? Another gripping and emotionally involving slice of family life from this award-winning, bestselling author. Price 20 euros.

Clean Break is about Em. Em adores her funny, glamorous dad – who cares if he’s not her real father? He’s wonderful to her, and to her little brother and sister. True to form at Christmas, dad gives them fantastic presents, including an emerald ring for his little Princess Em. But the day that begins as the perfect Christmas for Em and her small half-sister Vita and half-brother Maxie ends in the revelation that he is planning to leave home. How many chapters must pass before Em learns that her ring is no more than glass and paste?

Will dad’s well-meaning but chaotic attempts to keep seeing Em and the other children help the family come to terms with this new crisis? Or would they be better off with a clean break? When Em tries to pawn her ring (she wants to treat her family to a holiday), she discovers it is worthless. But far from throwing it away, she continues to love it – it is her talisman. Jacqueline Wilson understands sentimental value and is always able to find a bittersweet quality in the dysfunctional families she describes. Also for children aged nine to 11, this is priced at 9.50 euros.

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