Top Texts for January

​This month’s Top Texts have been chosen by Alison Leach, an experienced primary teacher and English lead.

The Light Jar

​This intriguing story features a boy who is compelled to find coping mechanisms for real and metaphorical darkness. What is exceptional in this text is the way in which the real and the imaginary are seamlessly merged so that its sober themes (including domestic abuse) can be processed through fairytale filters of cottages in the woods, jars of light and mystery treasure hunts. This brave and thought-provoking book brilliantly captures the feeling of finding oneself caught on thresholds that will seem familiar to readers in upper KS2, such as childhood versus adolescence, attachment versus separation and reality versus imagination.

A World of Cities

​This is a true treasure of a non-fiction text! Illustrator James Brown follows on from the popular ‘A World of Information’ in a similar style; an almost-A3 sized high quality information book filled with double-page spreads in his striking print-maker style, this time with each one containing information about a different world city. The written text is cleverly integrated into the pictures (e.g. on the page about London, facts are placed seated on a bus, around the archways of the bridge and ascending Big Ben’s tower, among other places) and you get the feeling that you will discover brand new trinkets of information each time you read. An engaging, original book that makes you want to climb into the pages!

Sky Song

​A magical adventure story with a strong female lead and overtones of Pullman and C.S. Lewis, ‘Sky Song’ will whisk you away into an enchanting fantasy world. Set in an icy landscape populated by a power-hungry Ice Queen, tribes of children living in secret hide-outs and delightful magical animals, this text cleverly explores how the ‘magic’ of acceptance and tolerance can advance personal and societal change. On their quest to save the kingdom from the clutches of the Ice Queen, adventurers Eska and Flint discover that long-standing borders between different tribes can be broken down and that openness and courage are better markers of identity than ethnicity or class. Fast-paced and sparkling with magic on every page, this book is a real delight.


About this month's reviewer

January’s Top Texts have been chosen by Alison Leach, an experienced primary teacher and English lead who now helps teachers to discover quality children’s books for their classrooms and school libraries through the website Alison completed a Master of Education in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge, during which time she was awarded the Jacqueline Wilson Award in Children’s Literature Research. Find her on Twitter as @booksfortopics.