Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon
A Bear Called Paddington is a delightful collection that will appeal to readers of all ages and will be a particular delight for story time sessions. In this edition, the marmalade-loving bear from Darkest Peru is as charming today as ever.
Growing Up Powerful Journal is a positive, interactive resource for the early teenage years that will appeal to fans of Judy Blume and the Rebel Girls books. Each section has a multi-choice personality-style quiz and real-life stories of inspiring girls and young women.
Ancient Love Stories will appeal to both history and romance fans and to all readers longing for their own epic love story. Written by classical scholar Emily Hauser and illustrated by Swedish designer Sander Berg, this is a highly visually appealing book.
I Loved You In Another Life is a beautiful tale that will have even hardened cynics believing in true love and soul mates. This tender tale will appeal to fans of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper and Lauren James’ The Next Together.
Last-Place Lin is a positive and highly relevant tale of determination that will appeal to fans of Charlie and Lola and Julia Donaldson. The bright illustrations and minimal text make for an accessible read and children will identify with the Sports Day theme.
Super Space Weekend is a high-quality non-fiction text that will appeal to both existing space enthusiasts and those who want to learn more about the subject. The graphic novel style format makes it accessible for both confident and reluctant readers.
The Final Year is a highly relevant book that would serve as a great support for year five and six pupils who are facing their own imminent move to secondary school. The verse format makes for an accessible read and the illustrations enhance the realistic setting.
The Star Whale is a delightful poetry collection that will appeal to fans of Michael Morpurgo and budding David Attenboroughs. The collection includes blank verses and strong rhyming patterns, tongue twisters and songs.
The Silver Road is an immersive read that will appeal to fans of Catherine Doyle and the Percy Jackson books. The twisting plot is reminiscent of oral storytelling traditions and classic fantasy tales such as The Wizard of Earthsea.
With themes of identity and finding your own path in life, All That It Ever Meant is a clever, heartfelt tale that will appeal to confident older readers and fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Angie Thomas.
Channel Fear is a ghost story for the social-media generation. The plot is fast-paced, and the scares are satisfying without resorting to cliches. The rather toxic love triangle between Iris, Byron and Molly adds a dose of realism to the paranormal plotline.
Agent 9: Flood-a-geddon! is a full-colour, action-packed graphic novel. The serious ecological message of melting ice caps is nicely conveyed amidst the madcap adventure and James Bond-style gadget action.
The Fantastic Electric Mash-up Machines: Obstacle Attack! is a fast-paced, action-packed racing story. The cartoon-style drawings, large print and off-white paper make the book particularly accessible for emergent and struggling readers.
Against the Odds is an inspiring collection that will appeal to fans of the Rebel Girls books and readers who prefer non-fiction. As well as being highly engaging for reading for pleasure, the book would also be inspiring for class activities and creative writing prompts.
The Moon is a Ball is a sweet collection of tales that will appeal to fans of Julia Donaldson and A.A. Milne. The stories have simple plots that will appeal to young readers, but with deeper, more thoughtful messages that will also entice older children.
Thieves’ Gambit is a fast-paced, intelligent thriller. Rosalyn is a highly capable, charismatic protagonist. She is smart, savvy and brave, fiercely loyal to her family even as she grows increasingly disillusioned.
Secret Sister is a gripping thriller that will appeal to readers who enjoy, but are perhaps now ready to move on from, Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy. The two girls are strong and independent, battling an adult world of restrictions and secrets.
Sing If You Can’t Dance is a moving story of finding a new path when life has taken a cruel twist. It gives much needed representation to those affected by chronic health problems, without resorting to mawkishness or ‘heroic suffering’ tropes.
Growing Up Powerful is a positive, relevant guide to the early teenage years that will appeal to fans of Judy Blume and the Rebel Girls books. There is a strong emphasis on individuality and self-expression, of living life on your terms rather than comparing yourself to others.
Forwards Always by Matthew Hodson is a fun, engaging poetry collection for fans of Benjamin Zephaniah and Joseph Coelho. With lively and accessible poetry this is a collection to be read out loud and shared around in KS1 and KS2.
The Isles of the Gods is a rich, swash-buckling adventure that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce and Kalynn Bayron. The diversity of the characters, as well as their complicated personalities, is refreshing and adds to the immersive nature of the tale.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School is a bold, warm and funny YA novel that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and Alice Osman. There’s a freshness about the story with the diverse characters, hearty doses of sarcasm and the focus on strong family ties.
An Anthology of Aesop’s Animal Fables is a timeless edition of these beloved stories that will appeal to readers young and old. It’s a beautifully presented collection that is sure to inspire a love of both reading and nature in children of all ages.
The Thief of Farrowfell is the first in a new series of fast-paced children’s books by YA author Ravena Guron. The action is fast-paced and the side characters well developed. The ending is satisfying while leaving room for further books in the series.
The Way of Dog is a engrossing, touching and beautifully told verse tale of friendship, loyalty and finding your true home. It will appeal to fans of Eva Ibbotson’s One Dog and His Boy and C.C. Harrington’s Wild Oak.
The poetic text is simple and impactful, telling a story of healing and hope that will resonate with young readers who have lost someone they love. Corey’s Rock is a moving, magical tale that will appeal to fans of Sarah Crossan and Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
A Passing On Of Shells is the debut poetry collection by Scottish writer and performer Simon Lamb. The book contains 50 poems, each with exactly 50 words. It’s s a beautiful and accessible poetry collection that will appeal to fans of Michael Rosen and Joseph Coelho.
Vita and the Gladiator is rich in detail, with the descriptions of Roman food, clothing and entertainment helping to bring to life this turning point in British history. Readers who are keen to move on from the Horrible Histories series will find a lot to enjoy in this book.
Crossing the line is a fast-paced, highly readable novel in verse. This an exciting and growing sub-genre of YA fiction that tends to particularly appeal to reluctant or disengaged readers. The post-covid setting is very relatable and the murky world of drug dealing makes for addictive reading.
You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud is highly suitable for students in KS4 and it would serve as a valuable text for reading groups where issues of identity, integration and loyalty could be discussed with older pupils.
Xanthe & the Ruby Crown is a touching family-focused story with a strong thread of magical realism. Real-life issues of family illness, friendship struggles and anxiety over starting a new school are dealt with sensitively.
In Scattered Showers, LGBTQ+ relationships are portrayed in a strong, positive light and five of the stories are set at Christmas time, giving a festive spin on the collection. A beautifully presented book.
With evocative descriptions of the countryside, The Rescue of Ravenwood will reinforce the idea that all nature is valuable This novel will appeal to budding eco-warriors aged 9-12 and fans of Eva Ibbotson and Lauren St John.
Curse Breaker is a fast-paced and involving read. The interactive elements make it suitable for reading in pairs and it is likely to be of particular interest to gaming fans who will appreciate the play elements of the book.
The Boy Lost in the Maze is a clever and original tale that makes for an impressive start to Coelho’s tenure as Children’s Laureate. The poetic nature of the text makes it a quick and accessible read which is likely to appeal to reluctant readers, particularly boys given the male-dominated storylines.
No place for monsters is a perfect Halloween read for children who are not entirely convinced that monsters under the bed are all in their imagination. But beware – you may want to steer clear of ice cream vans after reading this…
With a rich weaving of myths and folk tales ranging from Hades and the underworld to legends of the Green Man and Samhain, Stone is a rewarding read that is likely to appeal to fans of Sally Nicholls’ Season of Secrets and Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls.
Free Kid to Good Home is easily accessible for newly-independent readers or for younger children to read with support and will appeal to young readers who have secretly (or not so secretly) resented the arrival of a potato-faced baby to the family.
Unraveller will appeal to readers of Patrick Ness and Amanda Hocking. Weaving in strands from the darker side of fairy tales – including human to animal transformation and unhealthy family relationships – it is a powerful and immersive tale.
The Cartoons that Saved the World is a light, fast paced story that is perfect for comic book fans who are looking for a more substantial read. The inventive characters and made up words add humor to the madcap story and encourage reading aloud.
Once Upon a Fever is an absorbing read with well-developed strong female characters, an immersive fantasy setting and a fast-paced plot. It is highly recommended for fans of intelligent dystopian fiction who like to be challenged in their expectations and assumptions.