The amazing squirrels of Barrington Stoke have sent me some amazing books over the past few weeks and I thought it was about time that I gave them some love and shared the absolute joy of these books.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Barrington Stoke is a small, independent and award-winning children’s publisher. For over 20 years we’ve been pioneering super-readable, dyslexia-friendly fiction to help every child become a reader. Their books are printed with a specially designed font and are printed on accessible coloured paper. I love their mission statement and I love that there are books for the children who could otherwise find reading a little overwhelming. If you’d like to find out more or check out their amazing collection of books, please check out their website: https://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/.
The House of Clouds – Lisa Thompson
“Tabby’s fed up. Fed up with losing her best friend and fed up that Grandad has come to stay. Grandad’s always telling the same old silly, made-up stories and now Tabby has to walk his smelly dog Buster every day after school. When one of Tabby’s walks takes her to a lonely hilltop house she spots something strange going on. So strange she can’t help but mention it to Grandad who of course turns it all into another fantasy. But when tragedy strikes, Tabby’s left wondering if Grandad’s impossible story could be true?“
This is a beautiful exploration of family and the joy of looking up and taking in the world (not just a mobile phone screen). Tabby’s life changed when her grandad moved in and became so much more than just her being able to enjoy her life. She started to see her grandad as a burden and as boring, not appreciating spending time with him. When things happen, Tabby’s life is thrown on its head yet again. She’s not sure what to do with herself, so she goes exploring. Her grandad has always told her tales and she’s never believed them… until she finds a strange house that has one of his stories attached to it. I really enjoyed this. It made my heart so happy. It’s totally lush. I loved the change in Tabby’s emotions from the start to the end, and the wonderful House of Clouds is such a gorgeous idea!
The Invasion of Crooked Oak – Dan Smith
“Nancy’s parents are acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat – it’s like they’re no longer themselves. Pete and Krish are obsessed with unexplained phenomena and when they offer to help Nancy investigate, they’re sure they can crack the case. But the deeper the trio dig, the darker the mystery gets … Crooked Oak is under attack from a dangerous foe, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.“
I’m not a big reader of scary books/zombie books, but I know that anything Dan Smith writes is something I need to read! This is a brilliant story about what happens when the adults in a town start changing and acting very weird. Well… of course it is down to a group of children to figure out how to save the day. You’ve got some brilliant characters in this and it’s just the right amount of spooky, scary to not freak children out! I absolutely thought this was brilliant. It’s a bit scary, action-packed and smart. I dare you not to fall in love with this book and its zombie fighting, brilliant kids! I’d love more from this place because I think there’s so much potential to keep this story and this setting alive.
The Griffin Gate – Vashti Hardy
“For years Grace’s family have been wardens of the Griffin map, using its teleport technology to help people and fight crime across the land of Moreland. At thirteen, Grace is too young become a warden, but she longs to go on missions herself. So when Grace finds herself alone with the map, she jumps at the chance to prove she’s up to the task. But the map transports Grace to a remote village where nothing is quite as it seems. Has she landed right in the middle of a treacherous scheme?“
Vashti Hardy is another one of those authors whose work is an absolute must have for me. Pair her incredible writing style with the brilliant work of Barrington Stoke and you absolutely can not go wrong. This is one of those books that I’ve been eyeing up for weeks now, so when I got a copy in the post I was OVER THE MOON. I gobbled this up VERY QUICKLY because it is so brilliant. It’s smart, clever and wonderfully done. When Grace goes into the magical map her family is in charge of, she comes into a world where nothing seems quite right. Along with her brilliant robotic bird and a bit of ingenuity, she solves a problem… that she shouldn’t have been solving in the first place! I loved that Grace was curious and asked lots of questions! You can’t beat a good bit of story about great young minds! I really enjoyed this and it was great fun. I can’t wait for more from Grace and this world. I’d love a magical map that I could transport into – but I don’t know that I’d be any good at Grace’s job haha!
Rock Bottom: A Midsummer Nightmare – Ross Montgomery
“Nick is truly, madly in love with Jessie Stone. And she doesn’t even know his name. In a ploy to win her heart, he plans to star alongside her in the school production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. But when he’s cast as the foolish Bottom instead of the romantic lead, his whole world comes crashing down. Enter Robyn, school mischief-maker, who has some crafty tricks up her sleeve. With her help Nick is sure he can get Jessie to notice him just as long as his grand plans don’t go up in smoke…”
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… Ross Montgomery can do no wrong. I have adored each and every single one of his books I’ve read, so when I heard of this one, I was very excited. A Shakespeare inspired book for kids? SIGN ME UP. This is a funny story about a boy who will do anything for love, even when it means ruining the school play. His actions for his love have catastrophic and hilarious consequences. Nick just wants Jessie to notice him – haven’t we all been there though?! I loved this take on AMSND: it’s a wonderfully funny, a little bit ridiculous, but absolutely spot on! Really can’t wait for the next one!
And that was my whistle stop tour of 4 of my recent reads from the squirrels at the Stoke!
Have you read any of these?
Have you heard of Barrington Stoke books?
Who would you love to see write a Barrington Stoke book?
A massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for these books (and others… reviews coming soon!). They’re fitting in perfectly in my library!