Title: White Feather

Author: Catherine and David MacPhail

Pages: 96 Pages

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

The Blurb

The war is won but for Tony there is little to celebrate. His brother never returned from no man’s land and has died not as a hero but executed as a coward. Refusing to believe that his brother was a traitor, a grief stricken Tony is pushed to the edge in his dark quest to uncover the horrifying truth.

A thrilling narrative of intertwining perspectives, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

White Feather is part of the Barrington Stoke range of dyslexia friendly texts. It is a story that focuses on the soldiers of World War One and how the concept of bravery was seen. How if you didn’t sign up to be a solider you would be considered cowardly and how if you refused to fight then that was a sign of being a coward too.

It is a story of one brother trying to find out the truth of his own brothers death and it leads him to interesting places. It is not only a story about war but also one about social class and how money cannot change the course of historical events.

White Feather is a brilliant short story, one that will engage its reader and immerse them in a world so far from their normality that it is hard not to be moved.

White Feather by Catherine and David MacPhail is available now.

For more information regarding Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke) please visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

Title: Second Best Friend

Author: Non Pratt

Pages: 82 Pages

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

The Blurb

Jade and Becky have always been best friends; inseparable and often indistinguishable. But when a spiteful comment from an awful ex pushes Jade to the edge, she begins to see that she has always been second best in everything. When the school election offers her the chance to finally be number one, Jade learns just how far she is willing to go to be better than her closest friend.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Non Pratt is one of my go-to authors. Ever since I read Trouble I have been hooked on her writing which makes it rather strange that it took me so long to read Second Best Friend. This is her second dyslexia friendly text released through Barrington Stoke and I must say, Non Pratt does not patronise her readers.

Second Best Friend is the story of Jade and Becky – best friends but political enemies in an upcoming class project. However, the seemingly perfect Becky is beginning to push Jade’s buttons – through no fault of her own, I might add – but jealousy and a mild inferiority complex turns Jade into the worst version of herself. Through her manipulation she realises that the grass isn’t always greener and most people do not have all of their ducks in a row.

I really loved this story. It displayed how toxic even some of the best friendships can become when outside influences start rubber-necking. Non Pratt also focuses on the morals of teenagers without being condescending – she knows that teens are going to do questionable things but rather than tell them off she shows them the consequences of their actions along with recognising how difficult it is to grow up in a social media age.

What I really love about Non Pratt’s Barrington Stoke releases is that she still writes for a mature audience. I work in a school and in particular with weaker readers and some of the stories available to them are – for want of a better word – boring. They don’t speak to a modern teenager. Non Pratt has her finger firmly on the pulse of the young adult genre and Second Best Friend is a clear example of this.

Second Best Friend by Non Pratt is available now.

For more information regarding Non Pratt (@NonPratt) please visit www.nonpratt.wordpress.com.

For more information regarding Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke) please visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

Title: Mind the Gap

Author: Phil Earle

Pages: 104 Pages

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

The Blurb

When Mikey’s dad died, something in Mikey died too. He loved his old man and he never stopped dreaming that one day his dad would land the role of a lifetime, prove them all wrong, and rock back up to the estate in the flashiest car anyone had ever seen. Now there’s just numbness, and not caring, and really, really stupid decisions. He says the worst of it is that he can’t even remember his dad’s voice any more. Eventually Mikey’s best mate can’t bear it anymore, and so he sets out to give Mikey the memories – and his dad’s voice – back

The Review

I originally chose to read Mind the Gap by Phil Earle because I was confused. Yes, I am very dumb sometimes. I was looking for the Carnegie Award longlist and instead found the long long list, bought Mind the Gap and set about reading it.

Even though it is only a small book I finished it in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down.

Imagine my disbelief when I realised that it hadn’t actually been shortlisted to the longlist. Sad times.

The story is about two best friends. One is suffering the unbearable loss of a parent and the other is trying to help him come to terms with it. It is a true testament to the power of friendship. A lovely, heart-warming read that speaks of real issues.

Well done Phil Earle.

Mind the Gap by Phil Earle is available now.

For more information regarding Phil Earle (@philearle) please visit www.philearle.com.

For more information regarding Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke) please visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

4 Stars

UnboxedTitle: Unboxed

Author: Non Pratt

Pages: 139 Pages

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

The Blurb

Four friends meet up at their old school to open the memory box they stowed there years ago – with five letters inside for four of them, because their friend Millie has died. When they open the box they find a new letter from Millie and discover that she has left them special instructions: permission to open her letter only if they all read aloud the letters they wrote to their older selves, revealing their deepest secrets.

Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 13+

The Review

I work in a school and I have the great privilege of working in the school’s library. We are really lucky because I know a lot of schools have had their libraries closed down; they are seen as a costly resource. I always get angry at this because I saw a news report that said out 24 countries in Europe, the UK came 23rd out of 24 for literacy skills. We were nearly at the bottom of the table. Yet valuable resources like libraries are being closed down within schools. To me, that is barmy.

The reason I mention this is that my students always come to me and ask for book recommendations. This is great but the chances are that these students aren’t reluctant readers. They come to me asking me about the YA fiction that I have read and loved. Non Pratt’s Trouble is one such book (I loved it and you can read about how much I loved it here). However, I must admit that I do struggle when trying to find books for some of my students who aren’t as enthused about reading as I am. I just don’t read that many books at that level; I’ve had the love of books and reading instilled in me since I was a young girl.

Now though, I have the answer. Non Pratt’s new release Unboxed is specifically for reluctant readers and it is printed in a dyslexia friendly font and on thick tinted paper. Besides all of these technical details, Unboxed is just a damn good story.

It is the story of friendship and how people and circumstances can change. I suppose because as teenagers we believe we are invincible. Nothing can touch us. Unboxed makes us realise that we aren’t and that we need to make every moment count. It is a coming of age story that is really powerful in its delivery. From the reluctant reader texts that I have read I can honestly say that Unboxed is nothing like them. I have been harping on lately about how modern day YA fiction doesn’t talk down to its readers. Writers are treating readers with respect and making sure that they tackle real world issues. Writers of this genre are not shying away from the harder topics. Non Pratt is one such author.

Unboxed is brilliant. It will make your heart ache and it will make you want to tell everyone you know that they need to read it – reluctantly or not.

Unboxed by Non Pratt is available now.

For more information regarding Non Pratt (@NonPratt) please visit www.nonpratt.com.

For more information regarding Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke) please visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

4 Stars