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Book Review: Recommended children’s and Young Adult (YA) books


There are two books that have dominated the Waterstones and Amazon children’s best-sellers lists this year: “Grandpa’s Great Escape” by David Walliams, currently at number three on the book chart, and “Old School: Diary of a wimpy kid” (book 10) by Jeff Kinney, currently at number four.

David Walliams has taken the children’s publishing world by storm in recent years, “Awful Auntie” is at number thirteen and “Gangsta Granny” is at number seventeen on Amazon’s best-sellers lists. He has drawn favourable comparisons to Roald Dahl and has even used the same illustrator, Quentin Blake. “The boy in the dress” by Walliams was recently made into a BBC film and aired last Christmas. This latest offering follows Jack’s grandpa on an adventure through care homes and RAF spitfires. Parents will recognise the references to Alzheimer’s but children will enjoy the spirit of adventure, as Jack helps his grandad carry out his cumbersome flights of fancy.

The latest Wimpy Kid instalment has been hotly anticipated all year. It is the tenth book of the series and follows the adventures of Greg Heffley through secondary school. It is written in diary format, with accompanied drawings.

Another popular release this year has been, “Katy” by Jacqueline Wilson, a modern- day version of the 19th century book, “What Katy did” by Susan Coolidge. After a life-changing accident, Katy has to spend time with her step-mother, Izzie. Wilson tackles the uncomfortable subject of stepfamilies yet again in her witty, yet inclusive trademark style.

An intriguing Young Adult book (YA), “Am I normal yet?” by Holly Bourne has delighted mental health campaigners with its open, honest portrayal and has subsequently supported teenagers experiencing anxiety and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The novel follows sixteen year old Evie as she navigates her way through the murky teenage world of making friends and dating, whilst trying to conceal her overwhelming anxieties. The book hinges on Evie’s desperate need to “fit in” and appear normal even when she’s having a really, really bad day.

A final young adult recommendation that has just hit the book shelves in time for Christmas is, “A boy named Christmas” by Matt Haig. It narrates the story of the childhood of Father Christmas (Nikolas) and his magical quest to discover his true calling. Set in 18th century Finland, this would make a perfect Christmas present for anyone who has ever wondered about the true ancestral origins of Saint Nicholas.

By Liz Dickinson


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