Review: The Raven’s Song by Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble

Cover image by Joanna Hunt, published by Old Barn Books,
October 2022

A tale of survival, discovery and hope in a vividly imagined near-future where the population makes reparation for the climate crimes of the past, this new novel jointly written by an Australian and a New Zealand author is thought-provokingly brilliant. I think that the cover image by Joanna Hunt does full justice to the narrative’s imagery of two world’s colliding in a mystical space.

Shelby Jones, known as Shel by those closest to her, helps her dad manage a chicken farm. Her neighbour and best friend Davy helps his family run a sheep farm. Their world comprises exactly seven hundred hectares enclosed within an impenetrable fence and populated by precisely three hundred and fifty kind, ethical people. They know that another closed township exists a distance away, but travel outside their compound is out of the question and one of their main priorities is the daily check of their sections of the fence for any breeches in its security. As Shel’s first person narrative states in the first chapter:

If anything from the honoured and natural world gets in, that’s on us.

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This strictly controlled world order is based on scientific analysis of the ability of the land to support human life following the climate-based disasters caused by earlier generations with their greed and disregard for the environmental damage they were causing. Now Shel and Davy’s generation must pay the cost; living low-tech, sustainable lives while the planet recovers. School history lessons repeatedly remind the children that they must endure a simplified, hardworking lifestyle in stark contrast to the technological advances that were enjoyed by their forebears but which caused existential chaos across the earth. The reverence in which the natural world is held is highlighted by the language, the title “honoured” bestowed on every reference to a part of nature from critter to mountain!

When a sheep goes missing from Davy’s farm the children find an unnatural cut in the fence and spy an unusual reflective disc tied to a distant tree in the jungle beyond the boundary of their world. This leads Shel to begin questioning what might have been on their land and the jungle that surrounds it, before the township was created and sets the tale of discovery in motion.

In a dual narrative we are introduced to the aptly-named Phoenix, who sees strange visions featuring a raven during the night, and his long dead mother at the window during the day. Combined with his sleepwalking, his Gran declares he has a sixth sense, a gift passed down from previous generations. Phoenix’s younger brother Walter seems to have linked visions and his sister Ida declares that ravens are birds of prophecy and that the visions are meaningful messages from the spirit realm. After a sleepwalk in the bog results in a bagful of objects linked to their dead mother, Phoenix and his four siblings decide that it is time to visit their mother’s memorial tree, planted in a small forest in the middle of their city. The mystical connection to a far distant past which occurs at this point left me intrigued and mesmerised and from this point I could not stop reading until the end of the story.

The connections across time between the narratives emerge in a plot which combines ecological science with poetic mythology. The duality of a fully preserved human child emerging from the liquid depths of a bog, and child victims of an incurable virus being suspended in time awaiting a scientific breakthrough is perfectly rendered in a complex and intriguing mystery. The themes of children teetering on the brink of adulthood and having their futures sacrificed by adult carelessness is as heart-breaking as it is beautifully and metaphorically written.

This is such a timely tale as the world emerges from the onslaught of COVID-19 and following a summer in which extreme climate events have been reported from all around the world. It is a story which certainly makes you think about they way we are treating the planet, the lessons we should be learning from the past and is ultimately a salute to human resilience and the value of taking responsibility to make a difference. When Shel and Phoenix’s existences finally collide, she says with the straightforward truth of youthful thinking:

You was just a kid. There’s not much you can do ’bout the world you’s born into, I guess, ‘cept try to walk real gentle where you can and give voice to the critters that’s too quiet to be heard and be a different kind of adult when you grow up.

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I highly recommend this book to mature readers of 11+ and would encourage all secondary school librarians to place a copy in their collections where I am certain it will appeal to teenagers who are environmentally aware. Pre-order your copy today!

I am most grateful to Ruth at Old Barn Books and Liz Scott for providing me with access to an e-book version of The Raven’s Song ahead of publication on 6th October 2022.

#MGReview: The October Witches by Jennifer Claessen

Cover artwork by Heidi Olivia Cannon, published by Uclan Publishing,
1st September 2022

A magical refashioning of the Arthurian legend, this middle grade coming of age story set amongst an unpredictable family of witches is a must for Halloween book selections this year. Narrator, Clemmie is the type of girl to which every reader can relate. She is worried about upcoming exams at school; is desperate to be liked by her slightly older, cool cousin Mirabelle; and clearly loves her family but maybe wishes they could be a bit more normal!

Clemmie shares a crowded, run down house on Pendragon Road with her mum, Patty, Aunts Prudie, Connie and Flissie and cousin Mirabelle and for eleven months of the year life is relatively normal. However, every October the older family members receive their magic and the household goes crazy for a month…and in this, her twelfth October, Clemmie expects to receive her magic and fully become a member of the coven! She joins the rest of the Merlyn family on their night time expedition to the allotted location for magic gathering and gets her first glimpse of their bitter rivals, the Morgan coven, sensing the enmity that exists between the two branches of the witchy world and little knowing the adventure that she will be pulled into.

I won’t describe the plot in any detail for fear of giving away spoilers. Suffice to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative which was pacy, perfectly pitched for readers of 9+ with gripping twists and turns, betrayals, unlikely alliances, peril, a magnificent villain in Aunt Morgan and some arch humour. Author Jennifer Claessen has wonderfully captured the voice of a twelve year old girl for whom bodily changes are causing uncertainty and nervousness and a growing awareness of family secrets causes confusion. Clemmie is a thoroughly engaging character and I rooted for her to gain control of her powers throughout. The relatable family dynamics are brilliantly entwined in a clever take on Arthurian legend, with the thirst for eternal power leading to a dramatic and vivid magical battle.

Although on the surface this is a story about witchy family feuds I felt that there was a deeper truth contained within the narrative; that of the younger generation breaking free of the chaos and mess created by their ancestors and forging a new truth and way of living. If you want a story that demonstrates the power of family loyalty, questions what we mean by magic and is thoroughly entertaining too, then add The October Witches to your Halloween wish list.

I am most grateful to Antonia Wilkinson and Uclan Publishing for sending me a proof copy of The October Witches prior to publication on 1st September 2022.

#BlogTour: Jump! by J.G. Nolan, illustrated by Carina Roberts

Cover illustration by Carina Roberts, published by Sergar Creative

A football story with a difference, this almost poetic account of determination and resilience echoes with the sound of past glories, and sets a path for future success. The artwork by Carina Roberts add greatly to the slightly other-worldly atmosphere of the book.

Robbie Blair is an enormously talented young footballer with the ability to beat defenders and defensive midfielders at will, with his tricks and flicks, swerves and dips of the shoulder. The one thing he can’t seem to beat is his own body, and after his femur is broken for the third time, the doctors have told him that at the age of eleven, his footballing career is over. After long weeks in traction and recuperation at home, Robbie is at last able to return to school, although sport is now off the timetable for him. However, a class trip to an old people’s home presents Robbie with the chance to chat to Fred and this old man’s pin-sharp reminiscences of the on-pitch heroics of a Celtic legend spark an otherworldly chain of events.

With a ghostly presence leading him through a training regime to build his strength, the discovery of an old abandoned football ground near his home in Clydebank and a young female footballer as a training partner, Robbie sets his sights on a full return to the pitch. I found this story really gripping, with a unique blend of fast-paced sporting action which reads like a match commentary and poetic passages which resonate with the echoes of Glasgow’s past, whether from the football pitch or the shipyards. I marvelled at Robbie’s resilience and courage in taking on a tough training regime in order to fulfil his dreams; although this book is football based, I think that young readers could apply this example to any endeavour in which they wish to excel. With the summer of fantastic football that we have all enjoyed, I believe that Jump! will appeal equally to girls and boys in upper KS2 and KS3.

As a reader who is well beyond the target range for this book, I was thoroughly invested in the story which brought back memories of my late dad and his often repeated tales of the Lisbon Lions. I think that author J G Nolan has perfectly captured the deeply rooted sense of community that used to be built around football clubs in the days when players were very much a part of that community. I am most grateful to LiterallyPR for my gifted copy of Jump! and the invitation to join the online blog tour. Do check out all the other reviews from a selection of wonderful bloggers.

Jump! Blog Tour. Graphic by LiterallyPR.

#YAReview: War of the Wind by Victoria Williamson

Published by Neem Tree Press September 23rd 2022

An environmental thriller for a teen audience with positive representation of children with additional support needs, this book needs to be in every school!

This new novel from Victoria Williamson, who has been rightly acclaimed for her previous middle grade books, is aimed at a teenage audience as it details the personal journey of fourteen year-old Max, who is struggling to come to terms with total hearing loss. From the opening pages which plunge the reader into the icy North Sea alongside Max during a terrible accident on his Dad’s trawler, you are drawn into his world of alienation; feeling great empathy with his character as you begin to realise the frustration and anger behind some of his challenging behaviours.

On a remote Scottish island where Max was once one of the cool gang, proud of his physical prowess and joining in with his mates when they teased the “specials” or “zoomers” as they unkindly label the children with additional learning needs, he is now one of those children. And he is not happy about it. I think that what Victoria Williamson does so well, is that she makes the reader inhabit a character who is scared, angry, frustrated and flawed. She paints Max as an absolutely believable teenager, he is not rendered as a saintly hero just because he is now deaf, but has carried his former prejudices with him into his new reality. Feeling that his parents have replaced him with perfect baby sister Sally, not understanding why his Dad can’t be bothered to communicate in writing and irritated that his mum is always too tired to sign accurately, Max lashes out at those who are trying to help him. The narrative delicately unfolds his growing relationships with three children who have been “othered” their entire lives: David who is a wheelchair user, Beanie who has Down’s Syndrome and Erin who was born deaf. His gradual acceptance into this community is not without its ups and downs, but as their isolation provides them with the singular opportunity to save their island community, their strengths come to the fore.

You see, this is not just “an issues” novel, it is in fact a fast-paced, technological thriller with a despicable scientific-military experiment at its core. The islanders have voted to allow three huge wind turbines to be installed just off the coast; disregarding the ugly new impostors on the rugged coastline and their resultant noise pollution in favour of the promise of long awaited wifi. As the blades start turning, the local wildlife bears the first impact but then Max begins to notice inexplicable and sinister changes in the behaviour of the majority of the island’s inhabitants. As Max, Erin, Beanie and David work together to disrupt the plans of ruthless scientist Doctor Ashwood, I found myself turning the pages quicker than a turbine blade on the stormiest Highland night!

I highly recommend this novel for all secondary school librarians, both for it’s entertainment value as a gripping thriller and for the empathy-inducing portrayal of children who are often overlooked or dismissed. In the author’s notes at the end, it is stated that the novel was reviewed by the British Deaf Association to ensure that it presented a sensitive portrayal of deaf characters. As an adult reader, I was hugely impressed with the narrative and will take away new learning for my inclusivity work as a health librarian. Additionally, I can’t help seeing parallels between a white haired villain who manipulates a population to allow a change which is calculated to set neighbour against neighbour, and I imagine that this could lead to some interesting PHSE conversations.

War of the Wind will be published on September 23rd 2022, which happens to be International Day of Sign Language; 20% of author royalties are going to be donated to the British Deaf Association so pre-order your copy today. I am most grateful to Neem Tree Press for my gifted copy in return for my honest opinion.

#MG Review: Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

ARC cover image, publisher Guppy Books, due October 2022

This book has everything that an advanced middle grade reader could wish for; action, friendship, innocent first love (boy meets ghost), mystery solving, sense of place and a spine tingling ghost story! From the opening sentence:

Rebecca Strand was sixteen the first time she saw her father kill a ghost

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I was utterly gripped. I had not previously read anything by the prize-winning Canadian author, Kenneth Oppel, but have now downloaded some of his earlier titles to my Kindle. If you are looking for a fresh take on a ghost story, are aged 10-14 and you have previously enjoyed Frost Hollow Hall and Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll, then make this your next choice after it is published on 13th October 2022!

Fifteen year old Gabe is working a summer holiday job, recounting the historical story of the mysterious deaths of Rebecca Strand and her father, as part of the ghost tour he gives daily at the abandoned Gibraltar Point Lighthouse which used to guard the entrance to Toronto’s harbour. On the day that one of the tourists in his audience turns out to be a descendant of Rebecca Strand, Gabe discovers that ghosts really do walk the earth and is drawn into a historical, detective mystery alongside best friend Yuri, teenage descendant of the lighthouse keepers and ghost blogger Callie, and the spectral form of Rebecca Strand. Together they must solve the riddle of the missing “ghostlight”, get their hands on this powerful amber disc, and fulfil the mission of the ancient Order of Keepers to destroy the hideously evil Viker, a villainous ghost hungry for power over the living and the dead.

I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this novel. The teenage characters really do come to life on the pages as genuine individuals. Gabe is a sensitive, caring boy who is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his father – first to another woman and then suddenly, to a fatal car accident. As his relationship with the ghostly form of Rebecca Smart develops we see him opening up his padlocked emotions and eventually learning the power of forgiveness. Yuri is similarly expertly rendered, the son of Russian immigrants, his mother is a journalist who has had to flee Russia and his father is an engineer struggling to gain the paperwork that will allow him to stay and work in Canada. We see the strain that this uncertainty places on Yuri, even as he utilises his inherent engineering ability to create the weaponry to fend off a ghost army. Aspiring journalist Callie was my favourite character from the moment she uttered the line:

Student librarian, four years running…I know my way around a database.

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as she expertly explains to Gabe, Yuri and Rebecca how she tracked down ancient court transcripts in her hunt for the location of the missing “ghostlight”. There are several key moments of library-related action which highlight the importance of repositories of knowledge and made this librarian’s heart sing!

Finally, the ghostly side of the story. Rebecca comes across as a normal, although somewhat old-fashioned girl; she has been dead for 200 years after all! She is able to communicate with Gabe by “clasping”, holding his hand to gain some of his living energy and to allow him to see her. This connection between them grows throughout the story into a totally innocent first love that genuinely tugs at the heart strings, it is perfectly pitched for a tween to early teen audience who primarily want a thrilling story with some emotional content but are not yet ready for adult themes. Rebecca’s character is not scary but Viker, who wishes to raise an army of the “wakeful and wicked dead” is quite terrifying and readers of a sensitive nature (like me) might want to read this book during daylight hours only!

I will not go into any more plot details for fear of spoiling anyone’s enjoyment of the narrative. I will just leave you with the recommendation that if you have any responsibility for choosing books to be read by Year 6 or Key Stage 3 pupils, put Ghostlight on your pre-order list for the autumn term.

I am most grateful to Liz Scott and Guppy Books for my review ARC in return for my honest opinion on Ghostlight.

#MGReview: Never Forget You by Jamila Gavin

Cover illustration by Ellie Lonsdale, published by Farshore, July 2022

A work of historical fiction, written on an epic scale covering the years leading up to World War II and an imagining of the war-time roles played by four school friends, this new novel by prize-winning author Jamila Gavin is inspired by the real-life resistance hero Noor Inayat Khan. It is a hefty 500 page novel which doesn’t gloss over the brutality of war and is suitable for mature readers at the top end of primary school as well as those in secondary education.

We first meet the fictionalised Princess Noor as she is dropped off by her father, a Sultan and Sufi holy man, to the relative safety of an English boarding school in 1937. However, even as she is placed under the wing of Gwen – who has grown up in India, the image of a buzzard circling her father’s limousine foreshadows the looming threat of war. Noor has an other-worldly personality with deeply held spiritual beliefs which are severely challenged as the atrocities of war become apparent. Gwen is very protective of her and particularly shields her from the mocking humour of flamboyant, aspiring actress Dorothy (Dodo). Noor’s gentle and empathetic personality brings outsider Vera into their friendship group, and this previously self-contained individual slowly reveals the story of her heartbreaking escape from the pogroms in Poland. The four girls are bonded by their isolation from family; Gwen’s parents serving the British Empire in India, her older brother in the RAF and her younger brother at boarding school; Dodo’s parents too busy gallivanting around Europe with other rich admirers of Hitler to bother with their daughter; Noor’s family dispersed overseas and Vera reliant on her aunt and uncle in Paris who reluctantly took her in when she became separated from her parents and younger brother on their journey across Europe.

With this broad scope of character backgrounds, Jamila Gavin paints the landscape of Europe as tensions seethe between Germany and the other major powers. Readers are given an insight into the way in which the Jewish people were scapegoated, targeted for abuse, stripped of their possessions and sent off to the concentration camps. The rise of tyranny is clearly shown in the way that a “strong” character can bend the wills of others to act in ways that defy humanity. The narrative is constructed in a variety of ways, with Gwen’s tale recounted in the first person; while Noor, Vera and Dodo’s stories are third person narratives. There are also verses of poems and extracts from children’s wartime diaries throughout, which all add to the immersive, multiple perspectives of the story. I think that this is the first time in a Middle Grade novel that I have encountered religious and spiritual beliefs examined as they are challenged by the realities faced by the characters and Noor’s journey from pacifism to active participant in war was deeply moving.

The four main characters leave school as war between Britain and Germany is declared and their plans to attend further study are put on hold as each of them applies their unique talents to the war effort. I liked the dual storylines of Gwen and Dodo’s roles in England contrasting with Vera and Noor’s activities with the resistance in Paris, in both cases the action is gripping, with constant danger punctuated by hungrily-grasped moments of pure joy. The author portrays the strong bonds of female friendship, even when tested by the most extreme forces at times when loyalties are questioned and personal judgements are put under scrutiny. She does not shy away from harsh realities and heartbreak; although the book is sensitively written, I think it is probably most suitable for children of 11 years and older. At the top end of primary school it would make an excellent whole class read as there are so many issues covered which could lead to enlightening class discussions.

I am most grateful to Farshore Books for sending me a review copy of Never Forget You in return for my honest opinion.

MG Review: Remarkably Ruby by Terri Libenson

Cover image by Terri Libenson, published by Harper Collins Publishers

A middle grade graphic novel, set in an American middle school, which bursts with personality and colour. I am greatly indebted to Antonia Wilkinson PR for sending me a copy of this life-affirming graphic novel, written and illustrated by Terri Libenson a best-selling US cartoonist.

I love the fact that graphic novels are being welcomed into classrooms and recognised for the accessible nature of their content and I think that this particular book will be a huge hit with upper key stage 2 readers. Ruby is a rather awkward loner who is coming to terms with the loss of her grade school best friend and trying to find her place in middle school. She suffers from the nick-name “baked bean girl” coined by a cruel wit in her class after unfortunate incidents caused by her nervous stomach and has a pretty miserable solitary existence at school. Meanwhile, her former friend, Mia is a high-achiever who seems to be surrounded by new friends, including a boyfriend, takes a perfectionist’s approach to everything that she does and is running for class president.

The story details their respective story arcs as they navigate new friendships, finding their places in the middle school social structure. Ruby is rescued by an inspirational teacher’s recognition of her poetic talent and through the poetry club begins to find her voice and her tribe. Perfect Mia has to face some uncomfortable truths about her behaviour as her plans start to go awry. Alternate chapters focus on each of the girls, with the book designed in a striking way; Ruby’s chapters are presented as an illustrated story in a style that would be familiar to fans of Tom Gates whereas Mia’s chapters are presented in full graphic novel cartoon style. I was very struck by the contrast in styles highlighting the contrast between shy, quiet, wordsmith Ruby and self-confident Mia, who will not let anything or anyone stand in the way of her ambition.

The gradual realisation by the two main protagonists that despite their seemingly opposing characteristics, they actually share similar insecurities, leads them to an understanding that wraps up the story neatly. I recommend this book very highly to all readers of 9-13, it’s a hugely enjoyable read and has a strong underlying theme of finding your inner talent and recognising that everyone has their unique strengths.

I am most grateful to Antonia Wilkinson and Harper Collins for my review copy of Remarkably Ruby in exchange for my honest opinion.

MG Review: The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers by Clare Povey

Cover illustration by Héloïse Mab, publisher Usborne, 7th July 2022



A fast-paced adventure, set in Paris during the 1920s, featuring a band of orphans and their allies, confronting a conspiracy to bring down the government and reinstall a ruling monarch! This timely tale based on the persuasive power of words, held me gripped as I consumed it on a train journey last week. The continuing battle between young story-teller Bastien Bonlivre and the despotic Odieux brothers, Xavier and Olivier, twists and turns like a Parisian alleyway as they grapple for the hearts and minds of the citizens of the City of Light. Although this is the second in the Bastien Bonlivre adventures it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel thanks to author Clare Povey including sufficient details from the backstory.

We start with orphan Bastien discovering that Olivier Odieux has walked free from court, leaving his younger brother Xavier to take the rap and be jailed for the murder of Bastien’s parents. It soon becomes apparent that Olivier has hatched a plan worthy of a megalomaniacal supervillain, aided by the descendants of an ancient secret organisation, the Red Ink Society. As the power-crazy fiend and his associates begin to sow chaos on the streets of Paris, Bastien and his friends from the Orphanage for Gentils Garçons along with accomplices, Mathilde and Alice, must track down the clues to uncover the dreadful secret that led to his parents’ deaths. The narrative moves at a cracking pace as the clock ticks down to the final denouement at the launch of the Exposition Universelle in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

I loved the fact that Clare Povey has wrapped some highly pertinent sociological ideas into this exciting story, revealing the ways that power-hungry individuals can seek to manipulate the masses with the use of propaganda. I feel sure that creative upper key stage 2 teachers will be using this entertaining story as a class read aloud and incorporating the questions it raises into PHSE and media literacy learning opportunities. The sprinkling of French vocabulary is defined in a glossary, adding another educational layer to this highly entertaining read. The large cast of characters means that many children will be able to identify with one of the protagonists, ensuring engagement throughout and I particularly loved that strong adult role models were included in a story about orphans. Overall, I highly recommend The Unexpected Tale of the Bad Brothers to all readers of 9+ who enjoy immersing themselves in fast-paced adventure. It is available for pre-order from good booksellers and will be available on 7th July 2022.

I am most grateful to Liz Scott and Usborne for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Hetty and the Battle of the Books by Anna James, illustrated by Jez Tuya

Cover image by Jez Tuya, to be published by Barrington Stoke,
7th July 2022

This is a book to make every school librarian or library advocate’s heart soar! As regular readers of my blog will know, I have loved Barrington Stoke books since discovering their titles for one of my own children almost twenty years ago. I have greatly enjoyed the books that they have commissioned from many of the top writers for children in the intervening years and Hetty and the Battle of the Books has just jumped straight to the top of my favourites list.

It is a funny, thoughtful, powerful manifesto for the necessity of having a library and a trained librarian in every school, published in fully accessible format so that it can be read and enjoyed by the very individuals to whom a library often matters the most. Anna James has wonderfully captured the voice of a quirky Year 7 pupil, Hetty, who is going through the friendship issues which occur so commonly as children progress from primary to secondary school. Her place of sanctuary is the school library, which in this story is presided over by Ms Juster, a librarian who knows how to cater for the needs of every pupil who enters her domain. When Hetty learns that the dastardly headteacher, Mr McCarthy, plans to close the library and make Ms Juster redundant, she puts her outrage into action, recruits her former friends to the cause and designs her own campaign to save the library. In a book of approximately one hundred pages the narrative crackles with a sense of urgency and is heavily laced with Hetty’s wry sense of humour. I absolutely adored the greyscale illustrations throughout by Jez Tuya, I am not aware of seeing his artwork before but I shall certainly be on the lookout for further books that he illustrates.

I urge all school librarians and literacy coordinators to purchase a copy of Hetty and the Battle of the Books for your pupils to enjoy, I think it will appeal to all readers of 8-13. In my opinion, this quote from the penultimate chapter summarises all that is magical about school libraries:

You can do your homework there as well as visit a faraway kingdom. You can research the Tudors as well as meet a Greek god, all from a beanbag. You can watch a film, or make a newspaper, or play Dungeons and Dragons. Or you can just read a good book…Because a library is a place for everyone…

Chapter 9

I am most grateful to Barrington Stoke and NetGalley for allowing me access to an e-ARC prior to publication, and I will certainly be buying a paperback copy when it is published on 7th July 2022.

Non-fiction Review: The Invisible World of Germs by Isabel Thomas

Cover image by Geraldine Sy and Ana Seixas, published by OUP, May 2022

The latest in the Very Short Introductions series provides answers to many questions that children and adults might have after the past two years sitting through news briefings about viruses, vaccines and R numbers. Isabel Thomas is a first class science communicator, never talking down to her readership, but presenting scientific information and vocabulary with absolute clarity, leaving readers enlightened and satisfied. This book has been intelligently designed with photos; illustrated diagrams and cartoon strip inserts by Geraldine Sy and Ana Seixas; and shout-outs to introduce new vocabulary and concepts. Information is broken into bite-sized chunks with clever use of colour and layout, so that complex ideas can be understood. The overall package delivers a comprehensive education of the microbial world in under 100 small format pages.

It is split into eight chapters which provide a history of the scientific research that led to our present day understanding of microbes, the effect of different microbes on the human body, immunology, medicines and the positive uses of microbes in our world. I particularly liked the use of regular features throughout the book such as Germ Hero, which provided single sentence biographies of scientists who had made breakthrough discoveries; and Speak Like a Scientist where key scientific terms were explained. As you would expect from a great non-fiction book, there is a glossary at the end.

As a librarian working in the health sector, I am always delighted to find books which provide evidence-based information that is accessible and informative for a wide readership. An informed population is likely to be one that is better able to contribute to the management of their own health and less likely to fall for misinformation. The Invisible World of Germs … and its impact on our lives would be suitable for upper Key Stage 2 classrooms, as well as secondary school settings, and also provides useful information for adult readers; I highly recommend that you read it.

I am most grateful to OUP for sending me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.