Welcome to my first Book Stack! I've amassed such a large collection of children's books over the years, I thought it might be nice to share some of my favourites organised by different themes. I'm working really hard writing book two in The Uncommoners series right now, so I don't have as much time as I'd like for reading. Small novels or short story collections are great in these situations. The following five books might not take up much space on your shelf, but don't let that fool you - they pack a far greater punch than many other longer novels. They’re also great choices for adults learning English as a second language or reluctant readers in general.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)
With a brilliant puzzle at its heart that’ll keep you guessing till the very end, When You Reach Me is the tale of teenager Miranda, who lives in a small apartment with her broke single mum. Miranda starts receiving notes from an anonymous stranger which seem to predict her future, and the story follows her journey as she investigates the mystery behind them. Expertly constructed, this is one of those stories you’ll want to re-read so you can spot all the clever little bits of craftsmanship.
Sum: Forty tales from the afterlives by David Eagleman (2009)
Published as an adult book but fine for older teens, Sum is a collection of short stories – sometimes only a page long – presenting different visions of the afterlife. They can be funny, poignant, dark or hopeful, but all are absorbing and economically told. The book makes for an addictive read because once you’ve read one possibility of what happens after we die, you pretty much have to know what all the others say.
The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech (2009)
This is the story of an unlikely friendship between Zola, a confident, outspoken little girl, and an unnamed Angel. The Angel narrates the story with the most endearing voice: ‘People’s are strange! The things they are doing and saying – sometime they make no sense.’The Angel thinks he might be ‘unfinished’ because he hasn’t been taught the words to speak properly, or been given enough angel training; but of course, it is his shortcomings that make him such an interesting character to read, and that make his adventures with Zola all the more entertaining.
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (2013)
A book about the relationship between a girl and a squirrel with superpowers. If that doesn't make you want to read it straight away, I don't know what will. The heroine, Flora, is a delightfully cynical and witty individual who loves comics (part of the story is told through the subtle sequential art of K.G.Campbell). Her observations of the characters around her are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. Ulysses the squirrel can fly and write poetry. Enough said, really. It is an intelligent, elegantly written book which will charm the pants off you. I fell for it on the first page.
Skellig by David Almond (1998)
This is one of my favourite stories of all time and the copy in the picture above is a beautiful hardback 15th anniversary edition, which lovely David Almond patiently signed for me after I'd gushed about how much I love it. Skellig tells the story of ten year old Michael who has just moved house and is feeling pretty disorientated. His mum is spending a lot of time at the local hospital, looking after Michael's premature baby sister and his Dad is busy unpacking. On the second day in the new house, Michael discovers a man, whom he assumes is homeless, living in the decrepit shed at the bottom of his new garden. This man calls himself 'Skellig' and along with a spirited neighbourhood girl called Mina, Michael strikes up a friendship with him. I don't want to say too much and give everything away, but Skellig is not all he seems. A smart, luminous, masterpiece of a book.