Wolf Children by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury, £7.99) is a Second World War novel about survival, but not in the way one might expect. Teenagers Otto, Ulrich and Helene, joined by eight-year-old Hanna, live in a derelict hospital amid the bizarre ruins of 1945 Berlin. The boys have been in the Hitler Youth and Ulrich has not yet shaken off its ideals. Their lives now revolve around foraging for food, occasionally setting off abandoned explosives for fun. If they trust the wrong person (even Ulrich, perhaps), they could all be dead. Crime, grime and fear are all-encompassing – a book that will stay with you. Age 12 up.
The Story of Tutankhamun by Patricia Cleveland-Peck (Bloomsbury, £14.99) is a gilded treasury of detailed illustrations, in which Isabel Greenberg employs speech bubbles, break-out sections and a hieroglyphic activity to engage the seven-to-11 age group, interwoven with more extensive text for older readers, filling in the historical background of the tomb’s discovery.
Breaking hearts are healed by making art, in Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel (Penguin, £7.99), a quirky, intelligent novel about negative space. Amid the usual teen business — handsome love interest, bad-boy rival, mean-girls scenario — there are more unusual goings-on. Juniper’s sister, Camilla, has died in a car crash, leaving behind a letter, addressed only to “You”.
Now, Juniper has two missions — to keep up her daily index of personal highs and lows (a project initiated by Camilla) and to deliver the letter. But on her first day back at school, one index card is lost… Age 12 up.
Like Camilla, Aaron Rosenthal is dead (he drowned) and what happens after his death is The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (Bloomsbury, £7.99). Paige dated Aaron for only a short time but his absence is a powerful force in her life. Two boys — one rough, one smooth — are contending for his place. Lord draws a parallel with Elizabeth Bennett and makes good use of literary references throughout; definitely a book for Eng-Lit fans. Paige’s grandmother is adorable, too — facing Alzheimer’s, she inspires Paige to follow her scriptwriting dream. Age 12 up.