Book Monitor - books from across the world

Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Soldier, Summoner, Saint…

Alina Starkov is a soldier in this dystopian novel of a land full of intrigue, with a magical, military elite and an overpowering sense of unnatural darkness and doom. Across the land like a dagger, lies The Shadow Fold or the Unsea, It is into this blackness that Alina knows she must travel to. She has a very special gift and the notorious leader, the Darkling, can only destroy the Shadow Fold using Alina’s gift. As she enters into a lavish world of intrigue, royalty and wealth, she comes under his spell. Escaping once she reunites with her friend from the past, but is this enough to keep them safe from the power of the Darkling.

Shadow and Bone is the first book in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, now a Netflix Original Series. Two of the following books are Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. Alina Starkov is the character and protagonist of the trilogy. These amazing books continue…. Find out more at Leigh Bardugo website.

A wonderful book and page turner and brilliant for young people who just want to read and read great books of different worlds and characters. They are brought to light and dark as each page turns and the plot of the story moves the reader from hope to despair in this journey with Alina.

Leigh Bardugo is the best selling award winning author, she lives in Los Angeles and is an avid writer of fantasy novels.

Thoroughly recommend Shadow and Bone for anyone interested in adventure, different worlds and good against evil. Having bought the first book I can’t wait to read the next in the series, Siege and Storm.

Sue Martin  Children’s Literacy Specialist

Stories across the world…

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller…

An excellent  book to take on holiday this year, impossible to stop reading! Adventure and intrigue from beginning to end.

It’s all about…

A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of fantasy, Garth Nix.

In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin.

Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops.

Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms.

Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New.

Author is well known Australian Garth Nix and publishers are The Orion Publishing Group. Recommend for any age above 7 years and for those who love adventure and pacy books.

My advice is, buy this book now and find a space somewhere to read until the end. The Old World of London is dangerous and exciting, so just watch out the next time you are walking alone in Bayswater!

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

Shackleton’s Endurance by Joanna Grochowicz

An Antarctic Survival Story

Ernest Shackleton’s remarkable story is a terrifying adventure with the happiest of endings – another brilliant narrative non-fiction Antarctic adventure from Joanna Grochowicz, featuring an explorer who was a true polar hero.

Shackleton’s Endurance is newly published by Allen and Unwin in UK on September 2nd, 2021, and was published in Australia and New Zealand in May 2021.

Adrift on the Antarctic pack ice with no means of escape and no hope of rescue, Ernest Shackleton and his men are surely doomed.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice. Later, it sinks without a trace.

To survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic – and the life-saving power of Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills.

‘An incredible true story brought to life in a highly readable style.’- Michael Smith, author of Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer.

Joanna Grochowicz’s  third amazing book in her series of Polar Explorers in the early 1900’s,  written for young people from 10 years and above. A daunting tale of heroism, courage, tenacity and teamwork, the book provides so much more than the bare facts of this well-known polar explorer. Joanna has an incredible gift of searching out the hidden stories behind her detailed research.

Joanna on the ice…

Shackleton’s Endurance is a perfect book for Yr5/6 in their studies on Arctic regions. It embraces many areas of the curriculum especially  history, geography. English and a huge input into the PSE curriculum. There is a comprehensive set of teacher notes provided by the publishers, Allen and Unwin, based in Australia.

Books Go Walkabout are so pleased to be working again with Joanna on her next visit to the UK in September 2021. This is mainly a research visit, but Joanna can do a few of her  highly engaging and informative talk to schools during this visit, time and other things permitting.

 More info in the next blog or send an email for immediate info. suemartin@bookagowalkabout.com

Sue Martin Children’s Literacy Consultant

Stories across the world…

The Great British Staycation Activity Book by Claire Saunders and illustrated by Livi Gosling

Facts, puzzles and much more…

If you are about to set out on holiday with children, in the car  heading across the UK to somewhere  in the country, by the sea or any one of our amazing towns and cities, you are about to set out on an adventure.

This is  just the book to have for enquiring minds, for those questions that are hard to answer. It is packed full of puzzles, activities, from word searches to quizzes, from seaside sudokus to sandcastle counts, there are some great fun things to do.

Fossil hunters extraordinaire…

The format of the book is excellent, with appealing images and activities based on our enriching history, try the page with Wonderful Words if you are heading anywhere near Stratford on Avon for instance. Designing your very own Staycation Hotel will bring some awesome designs and far away from the standard hotel design. Maybe you could change it to an Air B & B or creative glamping design.

The Great British Staycation is written by Claire Saunders,based on the book Maps of the United Kingdom by Rachel Dixon, illustrated by Livi Goslings.

Published by Wide Eyed Editions, part of the Quarto Knows, this is a great book to have to take away with you, or even work on at home, a real treat!

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

A boy, a silver back gorilla and bombs falling…

1941. War is raging. One angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

An extraordinary story with historical and family truth at its heart, that tells us as much about the present as the past. Deeply felt, movingly written, a remarkable achievement’ Michael Morpurgo

‘A magnificent story … It deserves every prize going’ Philip Pullman‘

From the start of the story, Joseph shows how determined he can be. His life so far has not given many signs of working out, the war, parents nowhere near. As he was marched along the streets by the indomitable Mrs F he looked up towards the sound of the wailing air raid siren in a London street…

He did look skywards but could see nothing. No sun, no bomber and most importantly, no hope.’

Phil Earle, the award winning author has many children’s book titles to his credit. He grew up in Hull and now lives on a hill in West Yorkshire.

Andersen Press have an amazing list of publications and When the Sky Falls is a great addition.

An extraordinary story of love, loss, compassion and kindness amongst a war time setting of cruelty, bombing, destruction and survival.

This book is a story that needs to be told, the story of a Silver back gorilla and a boy called Joseph.

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

10 Stories to Make a Difference Pop up Projects

One heart and mind… ten stories…

A very special collection of new illustrated stories and poems by children’s writers and illustrators to support Pop Up’s vital work in schools, and communities.

The British Library is presenting the 10 Stories launch event on Thursday 24th June both in venue and live streamed. Registration is open to all.

A shelf full of stories celebrating difference is a great leap forward towards diversity by UK children’s publishing. Pop Up has collaborated with 20 writers and illustrators ,plus editing and design professionals from 12 publishers to create a wonderful set of 10 books, unique in their style and presentation. They range from books for ages 5 – 11, covering diverse and creative subjects ad themes.

All the books are beautifully  presented  in hardback with information about the project and the stories, they are so much more than just the book itself.

Books we like especially  are…

Mistaken for a Bear ( age 9 and up…)by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by Jamie Beard

In the melting pot of London in 1839, two young dock workers chase a tiger on the loose- a dangerous splash of colour in a world of soot and grime!

That Thing  ( age 10 and up) by Avital Balwit & illustrated by Alexis Deacon

A close encounter with an intelligent octopus provides a lesson in curiosity and kindness to animals.

Forbidden ( age 11 and up)  by Anjala Tiwari & illustrated by Danica Da Silva Pereira

Two girls with very different lives are drawn into a passionate friendship- and bound by a desire to break the taboos that divide them.

Pop Up Projects CIC is a non-profit national children’s literature development agency with a mission to transform lives through literature. For ten years Pop Up has been bringing literature to life for over 120,000 children and young people and families.

They have provided 7,000 hours of author workshop and 58,000 books to schools, and helped 18 young writers and illustrators from under represented backgrounds into print through Pathways into Children’s Publishing.

Join the conversation on June 24th, we will be there too…

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

School Librarian of the Year 2020/21

The School Librarian of the Year Award is the SLA’s prestigious honour to recognise the excellent work that is carried out in school libraries every day, and to highlight the current practice of those whose work is outstanding.

The School Librarian of the Year Award was proposed in 2003 by Aidan Chambers, who was the President of the School Library Association at that time. It was intended to be an award for excellent practice and to be given annually ‘in recognition of outstanding and exemplary work by a school librarian… whose work may be within the conventional bounds of library and information resource centres or be in unconventional areas.’ (Aidan Chambers’ initial proposal, October 2003)

In 2021 the awards were announced at a virtual event on Friday 11th June.

And the School Librarian of the Year for 2020/21 is Kristabelle  Williams from Addey and Stanhope School, Lewisham, London.

Congratulations Kristabelle !

Kristabelle is the librarian in Addey & Stanhope state secondary school, and has an unremitting and consistent focus on ensuring the best futures for her students, making reading, researching and library use the norm. There are weekly KS3 library classes and book clubs – focusing on RfP, book talks and information skills, activities including discussions, debates, Book Pen Pals, Kahoot quizzes, Padlet activities and Ms Williams’ popular mash up of Taboo and Heads Up called “Books Up”.

By working with teaching departments and with student groups, booklists related to the curriculum, and empathy, inclusion and social justice are promoted across the school. Kristabelle has been instrumental in celebrating how reading for pleasure and mental health/well-being are intertwined, never stopping adapting and innovating to engage and encourage students.

There was a very strong list of candidates on the Honour List and the SLA CEO Alison Tarrant praised the librarians for their dedication in this most unusual of years 2020/21. Librarians have been key in the renewed focus of importance and power of reading (for pleasure, learning and wellbeing) and information literacy skills, as this generation will rely on these to determine the truth from scare mongering, and educational website from fake news.

Delighted to support School Library Association, they make such a difference!

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

The Corinthian Girl by Christina Balit

A slave girl with no name…

A girl with no name becomes a champion in the Herean Games in the great stadium of Olympia. This amazing story tells the tale of a girl abandoned by her father in Corinth as he had no need of a girl. Instead of taking her to the Temple for a special ceremony , he turned into the marketplace and left her on a bench.

She became a slave girl, but always wore the small Doric coin around her neck from her father to show that she was from a worthy family. By good fortune, her owner saw her playing with his son, recognised her potential as an athlete  and took her to train for the Herean Games, which were only for women. She won the games and was then given a name!

Winner of the Herean Games

A beautiful book from Otter-Barry Books with a wonderful story  bringing to life an event held so long ago, and a girl who rose to fortune by her ability. The illustrations and text are brilliant and whatever age the reader, this will bring real interest and joy.  There is an information section about the Herean Games, which were held before the Olympic Games which were started in 776BCE.

The author and illustrator is Christina Balit who has illustrated many children’s books and twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

I became fascinated by The Corinthian Girl and have so much enjoyed reading more about the Herean Games… it has given a real step into the past.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World…

Finn’s Garden Friends by Rachel Lawston &Lisa Visirin

This is such a beautiful and heart-warming book. The importance  of spending time in nature shines through on every page. The story explores a move from the country for Finn, to the city where dull, grey buildings are all that he can see. But  wild spaces, can be found in cities as well as the countryside,  where creatures of all shapes and sizes can roam freely. Finn discovers a hibernating hedgehog and a hungry fox along with different plants and birds galore.  It is an inspiring story of adventure close at home and a helpful Grandpa who lends a gentle hand along the way.

Hedgehog discovery…

At a time when we are all spending time in our own neighbourhoods, whether in towns or the countryside, Finn’s Garden Friends is a great way to explore the outside, find real creatures, large and small, move away from the ‘screens’ and explore together into our wonderful world.

Rachel Lawston is the author and she is a keen amateur orchid hunter bird watcher and bat detector.  She is also a designer with publishers  such as Walker Books and Penguin Random House. Rachel lives in London and near the Wetland Centre in Barnes, where she is a very keen volunteer.

Lisa Visirin is a new illustrator and is highly talented with children’s books themes. Her illustrations match beautifully with the text in Finn’s Garden Friends.

Allotments are just the thing in 2021…

Pikku Publishers produce very thoughtful, original books with high quality illustrations. They are inventive and creative only publishing titles and books they are passionate about. Many of their books are award winning and at Books Go Walkabout we love being part of their story.

I’m now off to take this book into the garden with me, to find out if I too can find these creatures under the hedge or maybe behind the wooden shed.

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Mark Baldo

34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from past & present

An outstanding book about people first and how they have carved out their lives and thoughts against a number of odds and issues which could so easily have prevented them from living their lives. Society does like to label! This is a book which clearly shows that we just should not do that!!



In this stylishly illustrated biography anthology, meet 30 artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, from past and present. From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstacles, owned their differences, and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them.

These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges that have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates, and makers. Each person is a leading figure in their field, be it sports, science, math, art, breakdancing, or the world of pop.

Read about Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Kirchoff, Henri Matisse, Eliza Suggs, Helen Keller, Frida Kahlo, John Nash, Stephen Hawking, Temple Grandin, Stevie Wonder, Nabil Shaban, Terry Fox, Jonas Jacobsson, Trischa Zorn, Ade Adepitan, and many others.

Cerrie Burnell is an actress, singer, playwright, author, and former television presenter for CBeebies (2009–2017). She was born with half a right arm and has sought to increase visibility of disabled people through her career in presenting, writing, and acting.

Shooter, swimmer and basketball player

Lauren Baldo is an illustrator based in the Philippines. He has worked as a storyboard artist, comic artist, graphic designer, and children’s book illustrator.

Publishers are Wide Eyed Editions, part of Quarto Knows. An amazing gift for excellent books which highlight research, people and subjects in a format which is modern and attractive. Just a great way to read and extend your knowledge.

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World

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