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Top Texts for April 2022

Jennifer Farrar has chosen some wonderful texts this month by Scottish Authors.

The Weather Weaver

by Tamsin Mori

Stella has returned home to Shetland to spend the summer with her recently widowed Grandpa while her parents work overseas. Things with Grandpa get off to a rocky start and, after storming off to the beach, Stella meets Tamar, who introduces her to the magical world of weather weaving. Soon after, Stella finds that the Shetland myths her Gran used to tell her are larger than life, including a terrifying sea witch, the Haken, who threatens to destroy their island home.

Mori’s debut novel will capture KS2 readers’ imaginations with its descriptions of the weather weavers’ magic and island life. Readers could explore what it would be like to have a pet cloud. And if they could control the wind, what would they make it do? How might they defeat the Haken?

A Kind of Spark

by Elle McNicoll

When 11-year old Addie learns that people from her Scottish village were wrongly persecuted as witches in centuries past, she is moved to campaign for a memorial in their honour. For Addie, this is far more that a school history project: it becomes a journey of self-discovery and social justice as she challenges her community to set aside their current prejudices about her, an autistic child, in order to collectively rectify past wrongs, and to tackle the on-going discrimination of anyone regarded as ‘different’.

Elle McNicoll’s powerful novel will appeal to readers across the primary years into early secondary. Its well-written, witty, fast-paced plot engages readers with critical questions about history and power, such as whose stories get told, whose experiences are silenced and why might that be? Narrator Addie’s neurodivergent lens offers a perspective on growing up, schooling and friendship that is so rarely heard in children’s literature, making this book a welcome addition to any classroom.

Brenda is a Sheep

by Morag Hood

Brenda isn’t like the other sheep in her flock, given her pointy teeth, sharp claws and life-long love of roast lamb. But her woolly pals see past what makes them different and plan a fantastic party to celebrate their friendship, causing Brenda to see things differently too.

This hilarious and heart-warming picturebook is a great way to explore themes related to identity, acceptance and friendship. It is also a wonderful way to explore how words and pictures interplay in the picturebook format. KS1 & 2 readers could discuss the ways Hood uses words and pictures to present us with conflicting information and the effects of this: what do we do when the words don’t always match what the pictures tell us?

JF

About this month's reviewer

Jennifer Farrar is a lecturer in children’s literature and literacies in the University of Glasgow’s School of Education. She loves working with student teachers to develop their knowledge and passion about texts for children and to explore how children’s literature can be used in their classrooms. She has just launched an OU/ UKLA Student Teachers’ Reading Group.

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