This year lots of us have used reading as a distraction from the world around us. For much of 2020 it’s been the only way to escape – to have adventures, leave our houses and meet new people. Over the summer we wrote about the books people at GMIAU have been reading in lockdown – Maya Goodfellow, Philippe Sands, S.A. Chakraborty, Isaac Asimov. But let’s be honest (and with no disrespect to the authors in our first blog), some of the best books aren’t written ‘for adults’ – they’re written by children’s authors.
Agree? Many of the children we asked did. And here’s some of the books they’ve been reading. If you want to hear about tales of friendship, journeys, identity, belonging and nature you could do no better than to start here. We might still be in for a winter where adventuring is done largely through the imagination, here’s some books to help along the way.
(Spoiler alert: you might find out quite a bit about the plot line in the reviews!)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is India’s recommendation. India (13) says,
Children of Blood and Bone is an amazing book which is part of the Legacy of Orïsha series. The writing in this book is fantastic. The characters are really bold and you really want to know them. It looks like a magical fantasy novel, but it’s deeper and is about displacement, racism and oppression. In it there is an important message about having courage and belief in yourself, even if people tell you that you are different. Zélie is the central character, she is strong and faces the anger and violence of a ruthless king who has ordered that all people with magic are killed. She is stubborn and stands up for what she believes, fighting to bring back magic against the monarchy. Amari is the king’s daughter who has grown up with luxury and wealth. However, she faces sexism and oppression as she struggles to be free. Friendship is also a big part of this story, even though they have big differences of who they are. On the beautiful cover it shows a powerful young black woman and in the story she is just as powerful. This book has violence and people get killed, so it’s really only okay for people 12+ and better check it out before you read it.
Franck Prevot’s Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees has been chosen by Maya (10):
I give this book four out of five. The pictures are amazing. My favourite picture is the fig tree where she collects water because you get to see the whole tree in detail and it’s really beautiful. I really like it because the main character isn’t white. She’s strong and she fights for what she cares about. She went to prison quite a few times. I think it’s for ages 7 plus because there are death threats in it. I’d recommend it for adults too and anyone who loves nature.
Niamh (9) has read The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Phillip Pullman. She says:
This is a book about a young girl who wants to become a firework-maker after her father. Unfortunately, her father says no to becoming a firework-maker because of her gender and all hope is lost, but the resilient young girl won’t stop fighting for her dream. She ends up traveling to the treacherous volcano, Mount Merapi to collect the Royal Sulpher in order to become a firework-maker. Little did she know she would perish instantly upon walking in the flames of Mount Merapi. Suddenly a trusted friend appears and gives her the magic water; which is used to be saved from the perilous flames. She instantaneously runs to save her father and all is forgiven. Her father apologises and allows her to be a firework-maker. She ends up being the best firework-maker in town and is just as good as any man.
And Nancy (10) chose to review No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton – a book that highlights the experiences of some of the families we support at GMIAU, as well as being set in Manchester
This book is all about a girl called Aya who is evacuated from her home in Syria. This book is a children’s book but adults can enjoy it too. Aya really likes ballet and is very good at it, so dance fans will love it. The most moving parts are: when Aya is in the dingy boat and the boat tips over and her dad goes missing in the water; and when a bit of bomb shrapnel falls on her friend and kills her. Throughout this story Aya never sees her dad again and her mum is not able to look after herself because she is grieving his loss. However, it’s delightful to see how the kindness of strangers affect Aya and her family’s lives. I really recommend this book because it is really moving and tells the tale of a lot of peoples’ lives which we don’t always get to hear.
We’d love to hear other suggestions for us to read over winter – let us know your recommendations! You can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.