Book Monitor - books from across the world

Engaging reads for children, from Books go Walkabout

Amazing Women of the Middle East – 25 Stories to inspire girls everywhere by Wafa’ Tarnowska

Truly amazing women

This is a book you will enjoy from cover to cover!

From Nefertititi, a beautiful and powerful Queen,to Zahra Lari, incredible ice skater, this book brings a huge dimension to the creative and powerful influence of women in the Middle East.

Discover Sheherazade, the famous storyteller, dive into the musical world of singer Fairuz, and meet Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Here in one unique volume are twenty-five outstanding women from the Middle East, who have created a legacy through strength of vision, leadership, courage and sheer determination.

Written by award-winning children’s author and trailblazer, Wafa’ Tarnowska, this unique collection of short biographies is illustrated with stunning, contemporary art by five internationally recognised artists.

There is so much amazing information in this book which will provide a further valuable insight into the world of the Middle East. Whichever era may interest you, there will be a remarkable story about a woman with insight and vision.

Amal looney – Human Rights lawyer

Maybe my favourites are Sheherazade in 9th Century BCE, the daughter of the vizier, and a storyteller, writing about tales on the Silk Road from China to Arabia; and Amal Clooney, a modern-day Human Rights lawyer, whose quote is, “ Giving up is not an option!

Wafa’ Tarnowska is the award-winning author of Arabian Nights, published by Barefoot Books. Wafa’ has a large repertoire of work including several children’s books, many translated into numerous languages. She also translates plays and books including Victoria and Abdul, which was then made into a film. In 2018, Wafa’ performed Palestinian stories with Jumana Emile Abboud at the Tate Modern in London.

The illustrations in the book are beautiful with an amazing use of colour and different styles throughout.

Pikku Publishers produce the most beautiful books and Amazing Women from the Middle East is a special book in their collection. The hardback book is a joy to have and each page has its own individual colour and shade. Pikku Publishers produce quality books for children in schools and at home and they reach far across the globe in sales and achievements.

If I could step outside my door today and buy one book, this is the one that I would choose. such a good book.

Sue Martin

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This book is a delight…compassionate, hopeful and ultimately redemptive

A remarkable book following a young girl through separation, disease and loss through remarkable courage and determination to make things right. It was shortlisted for the Costa Children’ s Book Award 2017

Ami lives with her sick mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of a cruel government official, Mr Zamora, changes her world for ever. Her island is to become a leprosy colony. Ami is banished to an orphanage across the water, where she meets a girl whose name means butterflies, and together they set out to find a way home to the island at the end of everything.

This is a book full of intriguing decisions , and cunning looks into the people who have made them, without little thought of the effect on others. It brings together the need for understanding and compassion. It shows how young people can so often break through rules that are plainly wrong.

I loved reading the book , recommended to me by the librarian at Shrewsbury International School, Hong Kong, and will now find further books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Published by Chicken House Books, The Island at the End of Everything is part of a great collection of books in a huge range of genres. Their list for Summer Reading 2020 looks fantastic, about to start on the next exciting read.

Sue Martin

Belonging Street – Poems by Mandy Coe

At a time when we definitely need poems to lighten our load, to find some of our hidden feelings and to express joy and laughter, Belonging Street brings a wonderful collection of poems from a popular poet, encompassing the natural world, city life and family belonging.

Much needed poetry….

Two of the poems especially appealed to me; My Name is Grey , with a verse

I am the owl’s wing and winter sky,

I leap in the mad March hare.

I hide in the hedgehog’s prickles,

And sleep in the wolf’s thick fur.

And My Name is Blue,

I am the kingfisher’s pride

and the boat’s wide sail.

Belonging Street includes poems to encourage empathy, a sense of belonging and care for our planet- an important collection for our time.

Mandy Coe, the poet, performs in schools and workshops in the UK and you can listen to Mandy read her poems on the BBC Teach School Radio.

Otter Barry have a great range of poetry books in their collection , which they publish four times a year. They are an exciting children’s imprint aiming to make a difference, push boundaries and publish books that children will love.

At Books Go walkabout we are passionate about empowering young voices and never has their been a time when this is more needed, so welcome and enjoy Belonging Street.

Sue Martin

Dear Ugly Sisters, poems by Laura Mucha and illustrated by Tania Rex

Great poetry!

An outstanding new voice in children’s poetry with her debut collection full of varied, effervescent and thought provoking poems.

Laura has already achieved much through literacy events, poetry workshops and blog writing and this brand new venture into a book of her poems is a great way for us all to find her poems at our finger tips.

Read the poem Dear Ugly Sisters below,

Laura Mucha is an award winning poet, author and speaker. She has won two international poetry prizes, the Caterpillar {poetry Prize, 2016 and the inaugural YorkMix Poems for Children 2019. She also writes for adults too with her debut book, Love Factually/We Need to Talk About Love published in 2019.

Tania Rex was born and raised in Bilnius, Lithuania, where she still lives and graduated from Vilnius Academy of Art.

Otter-Barry Books publishes four poetry collections a year and is an imprint which pushes the boundaries for publication in the world of children’s book publishing.

Sue Martin

How to Design a Novel – Rehan Khan

Rehan Khan, author of Carnegie nominated ‘ Tudor Turk’ will be running a live 2 day course on; How to write and design a novel, on 12-13th December 2020. (...this is an entrance fee event, see link below…Ed.)

You can register for this event herehttps://courses.rehankhan.com/Pjr25

We know there are many of our blog readers who would love to write a book themselves. Maybe you are one of those? Do you have a story inside you to tell? Do you love reading and would like to to write a book? This course may be just right for you.

Rehan is the author of A Tudor Turk and A King’s Armour, an historic fiction series with Hope Road Publishers. They are great books and bring a totally new dimension to that period in history.

This is a unique opportunity and the focus on designing the novel will enable a way into writing. Finding the backdrop of the story, providing the setting, thinking about the characters, planning and enabling some hooks for the story to unfold.

In the UK as we head into lockdown 2, maybe this will give you some inspiration and motivation to find a way to write that book.

But in any case, try reading A Tudor Turk and A King’s Armour over lock-down. You will find yourself in another world, full of daring adventure.

Sue Martin

Inheritance by Carole Wilkinson

What can happen when you slip through time? What events would you most like to change?

A wonderful book…

How would you feel if you were at the centre of something so outrageous that you would do anything to change history?

Inheritance is a powerful and moving book, with a message for us all. The story is focused through Nic who has been left in the care of her grandfather at the remote family property in the depths of Australia. She is feeling misplaced and unusually for her unable to make friends at the local school, because of her name.

It’s because you’re a Mitchell,’ says Thor.

Between them they uncover a most dreadful event at Yaratgil ( the family home), linked to her ancestors and to Thor’s.

Nic’s mother had died when she was born, but Nic discovers that travelling back through time is something they have in common.

Carole uses her expertise in research and historical facts (some well-hidden) to uncover a dark and shocking secret that haunts the land, and the people who live there.

It’s an intriguing story and holds the reader from beginning to end.

Carole Wilkinson, the author is an award-winning author of many books, including the famous Dragonkeeper series about a slave girl in the Han Dynasty. Carol lives in Melbourne, Australia.

First Book in the Award Winning DragonKeeper series

Books Go Walkabout works with Carol on author visits across the globe, most recent in Hong Kong. Book Monitor blog is the review part of our books projects across the world.

Black Dog books, part of Walker Books, Australia are the publishers with have an excellent range of books for all ages.

We recommend Inheritance for many readers, probably aged 10 to beyond!

Enjoy the book, I found it impossible to put down!

Sue Martin

Stories Across the World

Landing with Wings by Trace Balla

Beautiful illustrations…

A story of hope- a way forward, beyond boundaries and fences towards belonging, community and country, welcome and home.’ Trace Balla

A spectacular book! Children will just love this way of recording stories, with pictures, annotations, and conversations. It has so much meaning and misses all those extra words which can detract from the events.

Finding roots where you can call a place home is important. Landing with Wings does just that as it follows the story of Miri Miri and her Mum, as they set up home in a place in the country in Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Australia. Finding friends in the world outside is the first thing, like the frog in the creek, the spotted pardalote and the silver eyes birds.  Miri Miri goes to school and starts meeting other children and people, being part of the community and the place.

But her Mum, who has stayed at home making the house feel like home, is sad and thinking about moving away. Until that is, Miri Miri introduces her to Swee and Laylah, and it just all starts to work out.

There is so much in this book, which records life in Australia, providing the wings to fly, finding somewhere new, and the roots to make the place your own. The annotations and descriptions of wildlife, nature and the earth are amazing. The First Nations people of  Dja Dja Wurrung, the Elders and especially Uncle Rick (in the illustrations!) are key to this book as well as the young Aboriginal leaders of the future.

Trace Balla talks about her book…

Trace Balla is author and illustrator is an award winning Australian children’s author and illustrator. Her book Rivertime won the 2015 Readings Children’s Book Prize and the Wilderness Society Picture Book Award in the same year. Trace is often found sketching in nature, riding her bike with her son, dancing, and growing vegies in her garden in central Victoria. She works as an illustrator, community artist, art therapist, animator, and writer of songs and stories.

Don’t we all need more ‘rivertime’?

As you can tell, Landing with Wings has touched my soul and I hope one day sometime soon I can be back in Australia and out there in the countryside (bush!).

Sue Martin

Stories across the world…

Girl From the Sea by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner

A haunting quality…

A shipwreck, a house by the sea and a family. This is a beautiful story, a book with incredibly spiritual illustrations and just a few words, and yet it says so much. I read it and looked at it many times picking  up a subtle undertext through the illustrations. It is a book to have when times are hard and maybe we are all lost for words.

Margaret Wild is an Australian author and her thoughtful, award-winning children’s books have been published with great success in many countries. They include Old Pig (shortlisted, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), Fox (winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), The Dream of the Thylacine (honour book, CBCA Picture Book of the Year), and On the Day You Were Born, all illustrated by Ron Brooks. Margaret has been the recipient of the Nan Chauncy Award and the Lady Cutler Award for her contributions to Australian Literature.

Jane Tanner began illustrating picture books in 1984 with Margaret Wild’s There’s a Sea in my Bedroom (shortlisted, Kate Greenaway Medal. Her many awards and shortlisted books include Drac and the Gremlin by Allan Baillie (joint winner, CBCA Picture Book of the Year. In 2017 Jane illustrated Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan (nominated, Kate Greenaway Medal; shortlisted, Prime Minister’s Literary Award; shortlisted, Queensland Literary Awards).

Allen and Unwin are the Australian publishers Girl from the Sea joins an incredibly powerful list of beautifully published books with meaning and power to touch people and bring changes to our world.

There is a haunting quality to Girl From the Sea and it fits a perfect place for thoughtful and evocative life experiences.

Sue Martin

Wonderful words and pictures, everywhere

Shoestring The boy Who Walks on Air by Julie Hunt and Dale Newman

But trouble is brewing…

A gripping illustrated adventure about a travelling circus troupe, a future-telling macaw and a cursed pair of gloves that Shoestring must conquer once and for all. A companion to the award-winning KidGlovz.


Twelve-year-old Shoestring is leaving behind his life of crime and starting a new career with the Troupe of Marvels. Their lead performer, he has an invisible tightrope and an act to die for. But trouble is brewing – the magical gloves that caused so much turmoil for KidGlovz are back.

When he’s wearing the gloves, the world is at Shoestring’s fingertips. It’s so easy to help himself to whatever he likes – even other people’s hopes and dreams. But when he steals his best friend’s mind, he’s at risk of losing all he values most.

Julie Hunt is the author to this amazingly intriguing and, like nothing else you will ever read book! It is a compelling sequel to KidGlovz, winner of the 2016 Queensland Literary Award and named as one of Booktrust UK’s 100 best books for middle readers.

Dale Newman has captured the imagery of Shoestring perfectly and she
has been engaged in creative life for many years.and now works as a freelance illustrator. KidGlovz was her very first-ever epic graphic novel. Dale lives on the New South Wales coast of Australia with her partner and son, who kindly agreed to model for the book. Her artwork also appears on the cover of Julie’s award-winning novel Song for a Scarlet.

Obsession, revenge and the threads that bind us…

Allen and Unwin are the publishers,they have created wonderful materials to go with this book. You can download a free set of Teacher’s Resources to go with Shoestring which will create some excellent writing skills.

Every so often a book lands on my desk in Cambridge, UK which grabs me! After ten minutes on the sofa, Shoestring is coming home with me to read tonight. Definitely one to read.

Sue Martin

Books and authors from around the world

A King’s Armour- Book Two in The Chronicles of Will Ryde and Awa Maryam Al-Jameel

The story is set in Istanbul, 1592. In the court of Sultan Murad the Third, where a mysterious manuscript arrives claiming to know the location of the fabled armour of King David.

The Sultan goes into melt down to discover the site of the armour, so frantic is he to be the bearer of the armour and gain the protection of the legendary breast plate.

He has never led armies into battle but with this armour he would be sure of success, or so he believes.

This is the second in the series of The Chronicles of Will Ryde and Awa Maryam Al-Jameel and is an action-packed adventure in Istanbul. A story about unity and how a diverse set of individuals work together to seek a common goal.

Will and Awa, our protagonists, navigate, trying to keep true to their values yet weary of their obligations to their imperial overlords.” Rehan Khan.

Rehan was born in London and now lives in Dubai with his family, where he also works as a visiting professor in an international business school. His first book in the series; A Tudor Turk was a great success and is nominated for The Cilip Carnegie Medal 2020.

Hope Road Publishing is an independent publisher promoting literature with a focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, along with neglected and often unheard voices. They have some enormously good books with  wonderful diversity.

A King’s Armour is an amazing book, packed with adventure, intrigue and history. The characters are brought to life by the expertise of the author and the story carries on at a pace that makes turning every page a joy.

Exceptionally worth reading and buying for children ages 9-14 or thereabouts. Great for home, school or library and would ably support other curriculum areas in school.

Sue Martin

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