Teenage books round-up – review


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An aspiring rapper’s struggle and a tale of witchcraft and misogyny are among this month’s YA standouts

The Hate U Give made a YA superstar of Angie Thomas, but just how do you follow a bestselling debut that has already been made into a movie? In On the Come Up (Walker) 16-year-old Brianna longs to become a famous rapper but finds herself stymied by poverty, a troubled reputation at school and, after her song goes viral, media prejudice about who she really is. There is no second-book syndrome here. Unflinching, honest and brimming with humanity, Thomas writes with confidence and conviction about kids seldom seen in literature. In a book that is all about finding your voice and the power of words, Bri’s frustrated, angry lyrics are pure magic.

Another author following a feted debut is Muhammad Khan, whose excellent I Am Thunder introduced him as an exhilarating new ...

Why I read aloud to my teenagers


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Storytime isn’t just for young children, says literary critic Meghan Cox Gurdon

Meghan Cox Gurdon is reading aloud to her daughter Phoebe. The book is Dominic, William Steig’s tale of a benevolent, wandering dog, and a family favourite. But this is no cosy bedtime vignette with a yawning, pyjama-clad toddler perched on a parent’s knee: Phoebe is 17 years old and she is drinking coffee and eating breakfast as she listens, before heading out to school. Like her siblings – Molly, 24, Paris, 22, Violet, 18, and Flora, 13 – she has grown up being read to, and it’s something that hasn’t stopped just because she’s hit adolescence.

Cox Gurdon is a reading-aloud tub-thumper. She is a children’s literature reviewer for the Wall Street Journal and has just published her own book, The Enchanted Hour, which makes the case for reading to loved ones of all ages.

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Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give: ‘Books play a huge part in resistance’


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The author’s young adult novel became a publishing sensation and an acclaimed film. Here, she answers questions from readers and famous fans on activism, social media and coping with rejection

In book publishing, it seems, they still do fairytales. Really not very long ago, Angie Thomas was a secretary to a bishop at a megachurch in Jackson, Mississippi. At nights – and during quiet periods in the day, she furtively admits – she worked on a young adult novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. She had previously written a children’s book, but hadn’t had any interest from agents. “Yeah, I had more than 150 rejections for that one,” says Thomas matter-of-factly. Thomas’s break came when she cold-contacted a literary agent who was doing a Twitter Q&A. The story speeds up now: the novel became The Hate U Give (THUG), a YA sensation about a 16-year-old girl ...

Send us your questions for Angie Thomas


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Got something you would like to ask the award-winning author of The Hate U Give? With the publication of her second YA novel coming up next month, here’s your chance

Angie Thomas is the author of the bestseller The Hate U Give, a novel for young adults that was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and which tells the story of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old African American girl who is drawn to activism after witnessing the police shooting of a childhood friend. Published in 2017, the book has been on the New York Times young adult bestseller list for 96 weeks and has won many awards, including children’s book of the year at the British book awards, and the Waterstones children’s book prize for 2018. Writer Nikesh Shukla described it as “one of the most important books of 2017” and it has also recently been made into a ...

2019 in books: what you’ll be reading this year


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The Goldfinch takes flight in cinemas, Robert Macfarlane goes underground and Margaret Atwood continues The Handmaid’s Tale … what to look forward to in the world of books

1 Centenary of the birth of The Catcher in the Rye author JD Salinger.
7 Winners of Costa category awards announced.
11 Release of the biopic Colette, starring Keira Knightley.
12 50th anniversary of the publication of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint.
14 TS Eliot prize for poetry awarded.
29 Costa prize-giving with book of the year revealed. Germaine Greer turns 80.

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The best children’s books of 2018 for all ages


This post is by Fiona Noble, Imogen Carter, Kitty Empire and Kate Kellaway from Books | The Guardian


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From celebrity-penned tales to fresh interpretations of the classics, here is our pick of the best for hungry readers from tots to teens

Children’s books have had a record-breaking few years. The sector was worth £381.9m in 2017, according to Nielsen BookScan, and 2018 may well top that. One in every three physical books sold is now a children’s book. Judging by bestseller charts and supermarket displays you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of those were by celebrities. Famous faces certainly continue to sell in big numbers: David Walliams’s The Ice Monster (HarperCollins), David Baddiel’s Head Kid (HarperCollins) and Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal series (Bloomsbury) are among the year’s most notable. But beyond this, a rich and varied landscape of books for children and young adults is very much in evidence. This year, Jacqueline Wilson returned to her best-loved heroine in My Mum Tracy Beaker ...

Young adults’ books of the month – favourite haunts revisited


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Frankenstein and Narnia are given fresh twists, alongside an inspirational teen love story and an upbeat feminist collection

As Halloween approaches, a classic horror novel inspires a menacing ghost story in Marcus Sedgwick’s The Monsters We Deserve (Zephyr, £12.99). In a remote mountain house in the French Alps, reality begins to blur as an author ponders upon the legacy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the creative act of writing itself. Haunted by dark visions and the spectre of failure, his isolation and obsession grow, invoking a terrible sense of claustrophobia and mounting dread. An ambitious and original take on the gothic.

Two contemporary novels stand out this autumn. In books such as We Are All Made of Molecules, Susin Nielsen has showcased her talent for authentic, unforgettable teenage voices. No Fixed Address (Andersen, £12.99) follows 13-year-old Felix who is homeless, living in a van with his mother. ...

Jason Reynolds: ‘What’s unusual about my story is that I became a writer’


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The American author on his gut response to a friend’s death, how to get young people reading, and the value of crochet

Jason Reynolds, a 34-year-old from Washington DC, didn’t grow up expecting to be a writer: indeed, he was 17 before he read a book from start to finish. But it might be his atypical background that allows him to connect so powerfully with teenage readers. He has published a dozen novels – mostly for young adults – in the US, has been a National Book award finalist and is a fixture on the New York Times bestseller list. He was also recently named on the Guardian’s Frederick Douglass 200 list, which honours the 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of the American abolitionist and politician. Now one of Reynolds’s books, Long Way Down, is being released in the UK. Told in verse, ...

Jason Reynolds: ‘What’s unusual about my story is that I became a writer’


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The American author on his gut response to a friend’s death, how to get young people reading, and the value of crochet

Jason Reynolds, a 34-year-old from Washington DC, didn’t grow up expecting to be a writer: indeed, he was 17 before he read a book from start to finish. But it might be his atypical background that allows him to connect so powerfully with teenage readers. He has published a dozen novels – mostly for young adults – in the US, has been a National Book award finalist and is a fixture on the New York Times bestseller list. He was also recently named on the Guardian’s Frederick Douglass 200 list, which honours the 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of the American abolitionist and politician. Now one of Reynolds’s books, Long Way Down, is being released in the UK. Told in verse, ...

Teenage books round-up: voyages of discovery and hope


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Coming-of-age stories from the historical to the fantastical are among the pick of this month’s YA fiction

Candy Gourlay’s historical novel Bone Talk (David Fickling, £10.99) is a coming-of-age story dealing with themes of imperialism and masculinity that resonate strongly today. It is 1899 and Samkad’s life with his Filipino mountain tribe is about to change when the first white man arrives in their remote village. The culture and landscape are vividly drawn, a mesmerising world of soulful ritual and community, rendering the impact of the American invasion all the more devastating.

From the past to the near future with Nicky Singer’s The Survival Game (Hodder, £7.99), a dystopian thriller set in a world ravaged by climate change and overpopulation. Fourteen-year-old Mhairi is making the difficult journey home from Sudan to Scotland when she meets a young African boy and risks everything to get him to safety. Recent news ...

‘I’ll make a sign and hold it up’: Isobelle Carmody takes her activism to the streets


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The Australian fantasy author, a vocal opponent of Australia’s offshore detention, calls taking a stand the ‘best kind of power’

“I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a coward,” says Isobelle Carmody. “A lot of my writing is about courage – learning what courage is, trying to find our own courage, that sort of thing – because I didn’t feel very brave at all when I was young.”

It’s a surprising admission from the acclaimed writer. For three decades now, Carmody has been one of Australia’s most beloved fantasy authors, for children and adults alike. At just 14 she began work on her first book, Obernewtyn, which was published in 1987 and spawned the fantasy series of the same name. Her novel The Gathering was a high school favourite for many Australian teens and won her both the 1993 Children’s Literature Peace prize and the 1994 CBCA ...

Want the kids to read more? 15 modern classics for all ages


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From greedy dogs to shimmering dragons and from dance competitions to grisly murder – these books can inspire a lifetime of reading

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillian and Yuval Zommer (Words and Pictures)
A concertina-book that falls open in yards of pages, taking you to the centre of the Earth and back again; good for budding geologists, treasure-hunters, archaeologists and those who aren’t too keen on traditionally book-shaped books.

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Authors steer boys from toxic masculinity with gentler heroes


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Inspirational male role models feature in books designed to influence young minds

Children’s writer Ben Brooks is on a mission to redefine masculinity for young boys. “I want to help boys become better, happier men and open up a debate about what we think of as masculinity. I want to question the idea that it’s weak to be emotionally open, to demonstrate that it’s fine for men to be vulnerable and kind, and to recognise the courage it takes to be different.”

Young adult fiction author Brendan Kiely is on a similar quest. “A definition of masculinity that emerges from a culture which silences, shames and gaslights women is dangerous – it harms women and robs boys of the potential to be better human beings. Seeing Trump in all his ugliness has acted like a wake-up call to male authors. We need to teach boys that they do not ...

Chelsea Clinton: ‘I’ve had vitriol flung at me for as long as I can remember’


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The former first daughter on privilege, female leadership, dealing with critics, and how Trump ‘degrades what it means to be American’

When the American media describe Chelsea Clinton as royalty, they refer not to her popularity but to her ubiquity. Her very first home was the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas; the family home she left for university 18 years later was the White House. Ordinarily, it’s only young royals who grow up in lavish official residences and the pitiless media spotlight, a permanent presence in our consciousness. It is a uniquely strange and unenviable version of celebrity that stole Clinton’s anonymity before she was old enough to spell it.

When we meet there is, therefore, a disconcerting sense of deja vu. Everything begins exactly as one might expect. On the previous day there had been the pre-interview call from one of her handlers, who was ostensibly warm and ...

Michael Chabon: ‘Parent properly and you’re doing yourself out of a job’


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The Pulitzer prize-winner on combining writing with raising kids, his freakozoid tendencies and the authors he returns to

Michael Chabon is one of America’s best-loved writers, the author of nine novels, including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (which won the Pulitzer prize), Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Moonglow. In 2009, he published Manhood for Amateurs, a series of reflections on his early years as a father. Now, with Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, 54-year-old Chabon has collected his essays about parenting four teenagers.

A few years ago, Chabon’s wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, wrote a controversial essay for the New York Times in which she claimed to love her husband more than her children (and to be the only one of her married friends still having regular sex). Chabon’s meditations on fatherhood are less likely to offend – they’re generous, very Californian ...

The Lifters by Dave Eggers review – a strong first children’s book


This post is by Tony Bradman from Books | The Guardian


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The plot may not be very original, but Dave Eggers can’t write a boring sentence - kids will love this tale of dark underground forces

Twelve-year-old Granite Flowerpetal, hero of Dave Eggers’s first book for children, is having a rough time. His mechanic father is struggling to make enough money to support the family, which also includes Granite’s mother, who uses a wheelchair, and little sister Maisie. Dad’s solution is to move hundreds of miles to the town of Carousel, where things start going wrong as soon as they arrive.

Granite is worried about being the new kid at school, and hopes to make that easier with a slight name change, from the hard-edged moniker given to him by his father to balance the family surname to “Gran”. But nobody is interested in his name, or anything about him, and before long he discovers that something strange is going on ...

The Lifters by Dave Eggers review – a strong first children’s book


This post is by Tony Bradman from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The plot may not be very original, but Dave Eggers can’t write a boring sentence - kids will love this tale of dark underground forces

Twelve-year-old Granite Flowerpetal, hero of Dave Eggers’s first book for children, is having a rough time. His mechanic father is struggling to make enough money to support the family, which also includes Granite’s mother, who uses a wheelchair, and little sister Maisie. Dad’s solution is to move hundreds of miles to the town of Carousel, where things start going wrong as soon as they arrive.

Granite is worried about being the new kid at school, and hopes to make that easier with a slight name change, from the hard-edged moniker given to him by his father to balance the family surname to “Gran”. But nobody is interested in his name, or anything about him, and before long he discovers that something strange is going on ...

Teenage books round-up: feminism and fairy tales


This post is by Fiona Noble from Books | The Guardian


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A vivid history of the suffragettes and a new version of The Little Mermaid are among this month’s standouts

Feminism and women’s history are richly woven into children’s and young adult books this year, taking their lead from the success of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and the centenary of the first British women to win the vote. Illustrator David Roberts is both writer and artist of Suffragette: The Battle for Equality (Two Hoots £18.99). In a lavish colour hardback replete with his distinctive, perceptive art, he offers fascinating insights into the complex history of the movement, looking beyond the stereotypes to include working-class women and diverse stories from around the world.

Despite Disney’s best efforts, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid has always occupied a dark place in the fairytale canon. In her contemporary reimagining, The Surface Breaks (Scholastic £12.99), Louise O’Neill harnesses that darkness and transforms the ...

Juno Dawson: ‘Teenagers have seen things that would make milk curdle’


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The YA novelist on researching addiction, dealing with transphobes and why she loves writing for teens

Award-winning “Queen of Teen” Juno Dawson was born James Dawson and raised in West Yorkshire. She worked as a teacher and journalist before becoming a full-time author. In 2015, she announced her intention to undergo gender transition and live as a woman. Her 14th book is the young adult novel Clean, the story of a teenage girl’s battle with heroin addiction and stint in rehab.

Drugs, sex and swearing feature highly in Clean, so what makes it a young adult novel?
The publishing world tends to focus more on the “young”, less on the “adult”. But I spend lots of time with teenagers and they’re truly the broadband generation. They’ve been online all their lives and seen things that would make milk curdle: beheadings, graphic violence, hardcore porn. Shielding them is never ...

The many tongues of Lost in Books, the only bookstore in Fairfield


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Most of Fairfield, in Sydney’s west, speaks a language other than English – and now it has a bookstore to match

Walking into Lost in Books is a little like walking into a daydream. Models of hot air balloons float near a ceiling covered in billowing white fabric. Bookshelves line one wall, murals adorn another. The gently sloping floor is carpeted in bright colours. A pile of cushions and soft toys is heaped in a corner beside some armchairs and a piano sits opposite. It’s a stark contrast to the hot concrete and brick of the Fairfield street on which it sits.

The multilingual children’s bookstore is the only one of its kind in the western Sydney suburb – the only bookstore, that is. The area hasn’t had a bookshop at all since Angus and Robertson turned its back on bricks-and-mortar outlets, and Kmart aside, the closest storefronts dedicated to ...