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Children’s books: Outside interests

    Hannah’s Way, by Linda Glaser
    Hannah’s Way, by Linda Glaser

    Introduce toddlers to the eco-friendly message of Tu Bishvat (January 25) with Thank You Trees, a board book by Gail Langer Karowski and Marilyn E. Gootman (Kar-Ben, £4.99). The rhymes are not exactly Dr Seuss, but Kristen Balouch’s friendly illustrations will stimulate discussion.

    In Hannah’s Way, by Linda Glaser (Kar-Ben, £5.99), Hannah is the only Jewish girl in her Minnesota school. Her class picnic is to be held two miles away, on Shabbat, so she is left out, as she cannot travel by car. But, when the teacher asks for a volunteer to walk with Hannah, the result is heartwarming on an I’m-Spartacus scale. Age three to seven.

    Stormy waters and secretive villagers set the scene for North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler (Orion, £9.99). When Mia arrives to spend half-term with her grandma, she befriends local girl Dee — not in person, but by writing messages in her diary, which she finds on a boat in the harbour. Dee writes back, but something about her does not seem quite right. Age nine to 12.

    Every You, Every Me by David Levithan (Random House, £5.99) was improvised around a series of photos sent to Levithan by Jonathan Farmer. The text is interactive, with extensive crossings-out that can be read or omitted, enacting the character’s internal dialogue. The reader must fathom out the back story, just as the teenage protagonist has to figure out who is sending him photos of his departed friend. Age 14 to adult.

    North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler
    North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler

    What if you could cure all illness and disability? And — more pressingly for “E.V.”, a patient in her mother’s sinister hospital — what if you could genetically engineer the perfect boyfriend? Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate, (Egmont, £6.99) is a funny-serious sci-fi thriller, for age 12 up.

    In Winter Wear by Kass Kentridge (Xlibris, £13.99), a teenager returns from the pub in somebody else’s overcoat and discovers that a diamond appears in the pocket each day.

    But the coat has a Holocaust heritage with dangerous reverberations. Forgive its flat narrative voices and occasional stylistic misjudgments; Winter Wear will grip older teen fans of time-slip adventure.

The Jewish Chronicle

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