Melanie Dillon

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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

Book reviews by Melanie Dillon

Big Ideas From Literature by The School of Life

Big Ideas From Literature by The School of Life

Big Ideas From Literature is an original non-fiction text that would be a great resource for school libraries and classrooms. The book provides both adults and children with a greater insight into the power of stories and how books can change our world.
Agent Harrier: This Book Will Self Destruct by Ben Sanders

Agent Harrier: This Book Will Self Destruct by Ben Sanders

This Book Will Self Destruct is a funny, action-packed graphic novel that will appeal to fans of the Agent 9 and Peng and Spanner series. The second book in the series – Agent Harrier: You Only Spy Twice – is due to be published in October 2024.
The Heart of the World by Amie Kaufman

The Heart of the World by Amie Kaufman

The Heart of the World is a fantastically rich, swashbuckling adventure that will appeal to fans of Tamora Pierce and Kalynn Bayron. Themes of love, sacrifice, family and destiny are woven together in this intricately plotted and epic tale.
Outside In by Daniel Thompson

Outside In by Daniel Thompson

Outside In is a beautiful, accessible poetry collection that will appeal to fans of Michael Rosen and Joseph Coelho. It’s beautifully presented, with full-colour illustrations on each page by Julia Murray.
Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls Lie is an intricately plotted tale of loyalty and the quest for justice. It will appeal to older readers who enjoyed This Book Kills and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith

Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith

Those We Drown is an immersive tale of mystery and hidden depths that will appeal to fans of Kalynn Bayron’s This Poison Heart. It is not recommended for anyone about to go on a cruise!
Soulmates and Other Ways To Die by Melissa Welliver

Soulmates and Other Ways To Die by Melissa Welliver

Readers will quickly become immersed in this near-future, scarily real dystopia. Soulmates And Other Ways To Die is an original tale of destiny and independence that will appeal to fans of You & Me at the End Of The World.
The 'Luis Ortega' Survival Club by Sonora Reyes

The ‘Luis Ortega’ Survival Club by Sonora Reyes

The ‘Luis Ortega’ Survival Club is a powerful, uplifting story of bravery, friendship and standing up for the truth. It celebrates female empowerment and will appeal to fans of You Think You Know Me and Moxie.
A Cure Ever After by Angharad Walker

A Cure Ever After by Angharad Walker

A Cure Ever After is a clever, immersive tale of friendship, deceit and finding your own place in the world. It will appeal to fans of Philip Pullman and Rainbow Rowell as well as readers who appreciate a well-crafted fantasy.
Stich Head the Graphic Novel by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson

Stitch Head: the Graphic Novel by Guy Bass and Pete Williamson

Stitch Head is an action-packed graphic novel that will appeal to fans of the Amelia Fang and Grimwood series. The graphic novel format makes for a lively and accessible read, even for reluctant readers.
The Untameables by Clare Pollard

The Untameables by Clare Pollard

The Untameables is a charming tale of friendship and bravery. Themes of independence, respecting others and standing up for your own truth run throughout the book, giving young readers a powerful story of tolerance and inner strength.
Peng and Spanners by Steve Webb

Peng and Spanners by Steve Webb

Peng and Spanners is a funny, action-packed graphic novel. The bold layouts and large speech bubbles will appeal to reluctant readers, making this a highly accessible and fun read. Further books in the series are planned.
Ultrawild by Steve Mushin

Ultrawild by Steve Mushin

Ultrawild’s large-scale format and shiny cover will give it instant shelf appeal. The intricate line drawings, multiple speech bubbles and graphic-novel-style presentation will grab the attention.
Evolution by Sarah Darwin & Eva-Maria Sadowski

Evolution by Sarah Darwin and Eva-Maria Sadowski

Evolution is a high-quality, fascinating insight into our amazing natural world, perfect for both classroom and school library usage. It will appeal to confident readers with an interest in nature who are looking to be inspired by scientific pioneers.
Old Bear by Jane Hissey

Old Bear by Jane Hissey

Old Bear is a charmingly nostalgic tale that will appeal to young readers and their parents. It would be ideal for bedtime reading or group storytime sessions. The text is beautifully illustrated, with a full-page picture on each spread.
A Bear Called Paddington: 65th Anniversary gift edition by Michael Bond

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum

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 by Nona Willis Aronowitz

Growing Up Powerful Journal by Nona Willis Aronowitz

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 by Emily Hauser

Ancient Love Stories by Emily Hauser

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 by David Arnold

I Loved You In Another Life by David Arnold

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 by Wai Chim, illustrated by Freda Chiu

Last-Place Lin by Wai Chim, illustrated by Freda Chiu

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: Adventures in Astronomy by Gaëlle Alméras

Super Space Weekend: Adventures in Astronomy by Gaëlle Alméras

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 by Matt Goodfellow

The Final Year by Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton

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 by Nicola Davies

The Star Whale by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček

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.
Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle

Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle, illustrated by Eve Patenaude

Described on the cover as ‘A hopeful story about climate anxiety’, Butterfly Wings is a unique, lyrical tale that will appeal to a wide readership of concerned readers and future climate activists.
The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart

The Silver Road by Sinéad O’Hart

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.
Nikhil and Jay: Off to India by Chitra Soundar

Nikhil and Jay: Off to India by Chitra Soundar

Nikhil and Jay: Off to India is an accessible read for newly independent readers who want more realistic and representative stories than those often found in prescriptive reading schemes.
All That it Ever Meant by Blessing Musariri

All That It Ever Meant by Blessing Musariri

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 by Lisa Richardson

Channel Fear by Lisa Richardson

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! by James Burks

Agent 9: Flood-a-geddon! by James Burks

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! by Tyler Byrd and N.S Blackman

The Fantastic Electric Mash-up Machines: Obstacle Attack! by Tyler Byrd and N.S Blackman

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.
Finding Wonder by Lauren St John

Finding Wonder by Lauren St John

Finding Wonder is an engrossing adventure story that will appeal to young horse fans. Best-selling author Lauren St John has a knack for weaving gripping plots with animal and conservation themes.
Against the Odds: The Incredible Struggles of 20 Great Adventurers by Alastair Humphreys, illustrated by Pola Mai

Against the Odds by Alastair Humphreys, illustrated by Pola Mai

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 by Ed Franck and Thé Tjong-Khing

The Moon is a Ball by Ed Franck and Thé Tjong-Khing

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 by Kayvion Lewis

Thieves’ Gambit by Kayvion Lewis

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 by Sophie McKenzie

Secret Sister by Sophie McKenzie

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.
A Head Full of Magic by Sarah Morrell

A Head Full of Magic by Sarah Morrell

A Head Full of Magic is a positive, fun read that will particularly appeal to those who, like Fleur, are approaching the end of primary school and facing their own life changes.
Nowhere Island by Tania Unsworth

Nowhere Island by Tania Unsworth

Nowhere Island is a fast-paced, survivalist adventure story. A modern story that will appeal to fans of Katherine Rundell and Eva Ibbotson, the descriptions of the island make this an immersive tale.
Sing If You Can't Dance by Alexia Casale

Sing If You Can’t Dance by Alexia Casale

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 by Nona Willis Aronowitz

Growing Up Powerful by Nona Willis Aronowitz

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

Forwards Always by Matthew Hodson

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 by Amie Kaufman

The Isles of the Gods by Amie Kaufman

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 by Sonora Reyes

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

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 by Helen Ward

An Anthology of Aesop’s Animal Fables by Helen Ward

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 by Ravena Guron

The Thief of Farrowfell by Ravena Guron

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 by Zana Fraillon

The Way of Dog by Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Sean Buckingham

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.
Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Gwen and Art Are Not in Love is an engaging read that will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and Alice Oseman who are looking to stretch their reading tastes into the realms of historical fiction.
Corey’s Rock by Sita Brahmachari

Corey’s Rock by Sita Brahmachari

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: 50 Fifty-Word Poems by Simon Lamb

A Passing On Of Shells by Simon Lamb

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 by Ally Sherrick

Vita and the Gladiator by Ally Sherrick

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 by Tia Fisher

Crossing the Line by Tia Fisher

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

You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud

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 by Jasbinder Bilan

Xanthe & the Ruby Crown by Jasbinder Bilan

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.
Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

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.
Wildoak by C.C. Harrington

Wildoak by C.C. Harrington

Set in the Big Freeze of 1963, Wildoak tells of an unlikely friendship between a young girl and a snow leopard, two outcasts trying to find their place in an often unfriendly world.
This Book Kills by Ravena Guron

This Book Kills by Ravena Guron

This Book Kills would appeal to fans of Gossip Girl and Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and without spoiling the reveal, the denouement is satisfying and does justice to the plot.
The Rescue of Ravenwood by Natasha Farrant

The Rescue of Ravenwood by Natasha Farrant

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 by Simon Tudhope

Curse Breaker by Simon Tudhope

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 by Joseph Coelho

The Boy Lost in the Maze by Joseph Coelho

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 by Kory Merritt

No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

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…
Stone by Finbar Hawkins

Stone by Finbar Hawkins

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 by Hiroshi Ito

Free Kid to Good Home by Hiroshi Ito

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 by Frances Hardinge

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

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 by Tom Ellen

The Cartoons that Saved the World by Tom Ellen

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 by Angharad Walker

Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker

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.