Tanuja Bocquet is the owner of Tell Me Their Story. Tanuja provides bespoke children’s book consultations to parents, helping them find the right books for their child, whether they are a reluctant reader, a voracious bookworm or looking to develop comprehension and vocabulary skills. The ultimate aim is to create a tribe of happy young readers, whether they are 7 or 17 years old.
As we start our Easter holidays, here are some more book recommendations from Tanuja to spark your children’s imagination, inspire reflection and most of all bring them pleasure.
For Younger Readers (aged 6 to 8)
Lockdown has been an opportunity for many to reconnect with nature and take pause at the beauty on our doorstep. This re-engagement with the natural world is exactly what its authors Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris are asking their readers to do. This bold, beautiful book is an ode to the natural world and the lost words of nature – words such as ‘conker’, ‘newt’ and ‘kingfisher’. In a series of spirited acrostic spell poems, these words and their meaning are brought to life allowing nature to become powerful and alive once again. A treasure of poems for readers of all ages.
Created by the French silk-screen artist Blexbolex, this is a collection of striking images of different people with different roles. There are mothers, fathers, painters, graffiti artists, travellers and migrants. There is no story but the images and clever juxtaposition of roles and professions create conversation.
Lots here to amuse younger readers starting out on their first chapter book adventures. Mr Penguin is a very likeable detective, a bit dim witted and a bit silly. His silent partner, Colin the spider, is the intelligent one in this unlikely duo. The orange, black and white illustrations have just the right amount of detail and the bigger font size is a bonus. Fun.
For Confident Readers – Middlegrade Fiction (aged 8 to 12)
There’s everything to like about this mystery novel published by Knights Of (big fan). It is bold and adventurousstorytelling. NikandNorva,theyoungdetectives,arebelievableyoungteens;thewriting is frank and original. Lots of sharp short sentences that don’t mess around. I loved the beginning,
‘If you think finding a body is a fun adventure, you’re 33% right. Hugo-Knightley-Webb, 45. Antiques dealer and occasional art teacher. Curly white hair. Straight-up dead.’
A brilliant debut in the style of a comic quest. Dry witted, fact obsesssed Freddie sets off on an adventure to find his biological dad after his Gram dies, leaving his ‘real dad’ (who he is definitely not trying to replace) at home with a broken leg after being run over by his own post van. He will make the journey from Andover to Wales with his two best friends and along the way they will enter an onion eating competition, stowaway on a boat and appear on the Welsh news three times. A lot of fun and I think it will pull many a reluctant reader along to the finish.
This magical novel transports the reader to the Himalayas with Tamarind, an adventurous, spirited young heroine searching for answers about her mother’s past. There is much here to delight and intrigue the reader – the wild protective spirit of Tamarind’s mother, a lost emerald ring, a golden dust trailing monkey and a suspicious (will come good) cousin.
For Young Adult readers
Fifteen year old Sam is pretty happy being an average football playing teen in Stevenage. When his Dad’s entrepreneurial talent finally pays off, his Mum moves them all to Hampstead and he’s sent off to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, with his brother and sister. He’s not thrilled about this. Sam is such a likeable awkward teen ,his mum appears to be in the grip of a mid-life crisis and his dad would rather be holed up in his shed. It’s all about not fitting in, making things up to fit in, young love, embarrassment and finally letting go and being honest about who you are. If your young adult fancies a comic novel with no zombies or totalitarian dictator in sight, then this is the one for them. I’d say suitable from 14+.
Intense prose combines with manga to tell the story of the tragic 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami and its effects on Yuki, a talented teenage girl. The storytelling is direct and stark in form, dealing with difficult themes – crippling anxiety, tragedy, grief, friendship and love – very well. What happens after we die, the continued presence of the dead in the living world and the notion of ghosts in Japanese culture is sensitively addressed, and I found this fascinating. Newly published.
Poet X is Acevedo’s powerful coming of age verse-novel. Intense and fierce, it tells the story of Xiomara, a young Dominican girl from Harlem who writes poetry in secret until she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club. Clap When You Land is her latest verse novel and is just as tightly constructed. This is raw, emotionally intelligent reading for young adults searching for their own identity and place in the world. Reluctant readers may find the musicality and energy of free verse a refreshing change from the more conventional linear novel form.