Recommended reads for July 2021

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Spies, tech and friendship

Amber Undercover, E M Norry

Amber's just an unassuming fourteen year old teen, with a best friend, Vi, a pizza addiction and a healthy interest in athletics. 


When she manages to escape from an escape room, she gets spotted by a spy agency and recruited to train with them to become a secret agent. Sounds implausible? Well, yes, but this is such quick witted, chatty writing that you can't help but get caught up in the possibility of it being believable.  
Chuck in a bit of teen blushing, an elite boarding school hacking ring, a few James Bond gadgets and an evil mastermind, and you have in your hands a very good book.

Great fun, smart and a quick modern read, with a fantastically likeable heroine who is just the right balance of clever and brave. 10+

We are all connected....

Look Both Ways

Truthful, sensitive, funny, lyrical prose. This is a clever book.

I love the way Jason Reynolds writes. Just won the Carnegie and I'm really pleased it did. It's a big win for the publishers, Knights Of, who I've admired for a long time, and also for modern, representative fresh children's literature.

It's ten inter-connected stories all about children walking home from school. Deals with lots of different themes, from bullying, to homophobia, to tear-jerking kindness. It pushes boundaries, will kickstart conversations and remind us that we are all connected in some way - no matter our circumstances.

I'll be recommending this one to 10+ readers who are after an original, thought provoking read by a fantastic American author.

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Birds, kindness and detective work

Twitch, M. G Leonard

Twitch lives with his mother, Iris, in a modest house, with a tree hung with teapots, cupboards that have become homes for pigeons and swallows nesting in his room. Twitch, like his mother, and their older neighbour Amita, is lovely company. He's the sort of twelve-year-old that I suspect all parents want their child to become. Independent, quietly confident, passionate, caring, true to himself and others. He won't put up with bullies and he won't let anyone down. He wakes up at 5am to do the paper round and listen to the dawn chorus.

When a robber and murderer is on the loose who is believed to have hidden 5 million pounds in a woodland that Twitch knows well, his life will change as he sets out to solve what has happened. Friendships will be formed, trust will be misplaced and broken, but Twitch's unrelenting courage, quick wits and avian friends will save the day.