‘A Wish in the Dark’ by Christina Soontornvat
All light in Chattana is created by one man, the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realises that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.
Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice – and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.
‘Invisible Enemies: A Handbook on Pandemics That Have Shaped Our World’ by Hwee Goh
A timely, sharply-curated book on pandemics that have shaped our world. Fully illustrated, with bite-sized stories to engage young readers to face new challenges head on.
The COVID-19 coronavirus seized the world in 2020. From the likes of the plague, the Spanish Flu and SARS, these invisible enemies have changed our lives, bringing death and widespread fear.
Yet, knowledge and the scientific quest for answers — along with a dogged sense of resilience — are our best weapons in the epic battle against pandemics.
- Who is patient zero and what are super spreaders?
- When did the Theory of Germs begin?
- Why did scientists risk their own lives?
- How did history prevail against pesky pandemics?
‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft
New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighbourhood friends and staying true to himself?
‘The Bridge Home’ by Padma Venkatraman
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.
Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter – and friendship – on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts and while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the children find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when they are forced from their safe haven on the bridge, they take shelter in a graveyard. However, it is now the rainy season and they are plagued by mosquitos, and Rukku and Muthu fall ill. As their symptoms worsen, Viji and Arul must decide whether to risk going for help – when most adults in their lives have proven themselves untrustworthy – or to continue holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
‘The Day I was Erased’ by Lisa Thompson
Eleven-year-old Maxwell is always, always in trouble. Roaming the town with his beloved pet dog Monster (who he rescued as a puppy from being run over) as a way to escape his parents’ constant arguing at home, he’s a menace to the neighbours and teachers at school.
While visiting an elderly neighbour, Maxwell comes across a mysterious cabinet of curiosities and suddenly finds himself erased from his life: it’s as if he’s never existed. Able to walk around anonymously might be great at first because, finally, no-one is yelling at him! But he soon realises that he misses his old life and, crucially, if he had never existed, then he wouldn’t have swooped in and stopped Monster the dog from being hit by that car.
Maxwell needs to find a way to reverse his erasure, with the help of his best friend Charlie and his sister Bex, who need a whole heap of persuading that this weird kid they’ve never clapped eyes on is actually super close to them in his former life.
‘Stand Up Yumi Chung!’ by Jessica Kim
On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her Yu-MEAT because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.
Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.
As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.