One of the best things about working in publishing is getting to read stories before they are published. So, I wanted to share with you two upcoming releases that I’ve recently enjoyed, children’s fiction is so powerful in inspiring imagination and teaching readers important lessons and I think these two stories do both of these things beautifully. Full disclosure, these are books published by the publisher I work for, so I am biased, but I really think these are great books!
- The Nowhere Thief by Alice M. Ross – an enchanting fantasy about strong family bonds and discovering that right and wrong is never crystal clear
- My Life on Fire by Cath Howe – an emotional journey of loss of possessions and identity, showing that small acts of kindness can mean everything
The Nowhere Thief
We meet 12-year-old Elsbeth in another world, taking objects that she finds back to her own world (not too dissimilar from our own) to sell in her mother’s struggling antique shop. She’s not entirely sure she’s doing a good thing, but what she knows for certain is that her mum needs help and her gift of travelling to other Somewheres seems to be working. That is until things start to go wrong, strange men start appearing, earthquakes start happening and a boy called Idris starts following Elsbeth everywhere. Who can Elsbeth trust and more importantly, where has her mum disappeared to?
This is a really original concept with hints of stories we all know and love. Rich descriptions meant that I could see the kaleidoscope of colours Elsbeth travels through in front of my eyes and each new world instantly conjured up beautiful imagery.
But what I appreciated the most about this story besides the incredible world-building, was the theme of trust. So often children are told to do as adults tell them, simply because, but as we all know, not all adults are trustworthy. Ross treads the line wonderfully, showing young people that they can think for themselves, whilst still being able to rely on those that they love.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, or you know a 9-12-year-old who would love to explore a new fantastical world you can preorder a copy here. Out 2nd March.
My Life of Fire
Ren has lost all of her possessions and her home in an awful fire, everyone feels very sorry for her, but none of them seem to understand what it really feels like. Even her brother is too young to truly understand what has happened and her parents are too busy on the phone to the insurance company. On top of having to move into her Grandmother’s house and sharing a room with her brother, her new class project is constantly reminding her that she has nothing, while everyone else has so much. So Ren decides to start taking things from other people. But when she is confronted about her actions can she muster the courage to put things right?
I don’t remember many books from my own childhood that dealt with complex characters and emotions. Jacqueline Wilson obviously springs to mind and I loved her books, but I wish I’d also had someone like Howe writing when I was younger. Howe really gets into the head of a child and understands them rather than patronises them. Ren make mistakes and her well-meaning classmate Caspar is constantly dismissed, by stressed and misunderstanding adults. I hope children that read this book realise that if they make mistakes or bad decisions it isn’t the end of the world and that they can put things rights. And I hope that the adults that read it remember to encourage children like Ren and Caspar rather than disregarding them as trouble or pretentious.
I think this would be a great read for any child who loves reading stories set in schools that they can relate to and for teachers and parents that want a reminder of how children think when they do something they know deep down that they shouldn’t. If that’s you or someone you know you can preorder a copy here. Out 6th April.
Are you a middle-grade fiction fan? What are some of your favourite genres and writers?