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The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games (Paperback)
Suzanne Collins
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The idea of putting children in an enclosed space and having them fight for survival has long been a familiar trope in human entertainment, featured in works from Lord of the Flies to the movie Battle Royale. Suzanne Collins' series The Hunger Games subverts the format by promoting this juvenile blood-fest from a fringe pursuit, to an annual ritual central to the society in which it is held. Being the most recent work on this list, The Hunger Games embodies particularly modern concerns: the rise of reality television, the lust for fame, and the necessity for humans to be heavily armed when embarking on camping trips.

AKH48 . - 30/07/2013
The Girl Who Circumnavigated ...
Catherynne M. Valente
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Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska (Paperback)
John Green
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Humour and heart in the same breath, on every page.

Lauren Kate - 15/06/2012
The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden (Paperback)
Frances Hodgson Burnett
 
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The story of Mary Lennox, the unloved, unloveable orphan warmed to life along with her secret garden, gave me one of my first female heroes. They should try moving her from the kiss-of-death Children’s Classics shelf, let her slug it out with the newcomers and see what happens.

Moira Young - 09/08/2012
Slow Loris
Slow Loris (Paperback)
Alexis Deacon
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There’s really not enough Slow Lorises in picture books. Probably because they’re so s...l...o...w, or are they? Alexis Deacon’s drawing are fresh and sketchy and full of personality, and the book is quirky and stylish.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Judith Kerr; Judith Kerr
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My first memory of The Tiger who Came to Tea is hearing it at story time in nursery school. I love the way that Sophie and her mother treat the arrival of the tiger as they would a neighbour by politely inviting him in. At four I was fascinated that the tiger managed to drink ‘all the water in the tap’. Judith Kerr’s illustrations and storytelling are full of charm. Definitely a classic.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
 
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Nature is an all-consuming beast whose function is simply to expand and conquer, feverishly devouring everything in its path on a relentless quest to rule all. I am a machine, and so I do not ‘feel’ sensations such as fear, or repulsion. And yet reading this book about a mighty insect (the exact proportions are not specified in the book, but based on its appetites we can assume a creature of some considerable size,) who consumes a succession of organic treats over the course of a week-long food-orgy, I cannot help but experience a form existential upset. I am an inorganic machine, a poor source of nutrition, and yet nature comes for me as well, attempting every day to start the process of devouring me through common oxidation. I would give this book only to adults, and I would personally give it four out of five terror-stars – if I had instituted such a scoring system, which I have not.

AKH48 . - 29/07/2013
The Giant Jam Sandwich
John Vernon Lord; Janet Burroway
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This book is my all time favourite picture book. It was first published in 1972 (the year I was born) and I still own my childhood copy complete with my name written inside with multi coloured felt tips. The Giant Jam Sandwich's rhyming text is the tale of a village invaded by wasps (can you guess how they solve the problem?). It's brilliant to read out loud with witty and intricate illustrations. As a child I used to spend hours poring over the details and loved looking for the three men who were chased from the village by wasps and turned up in subsequent pages.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
The Giver
The Giver (Paperback)
Lois Lowry
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Perfect dystopia; an eye-opening read.

Lauren Kate - 15/06/2012
There Are Cats in This Book
Viviane Schwarz
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This is a recent favourite of mine, and another that falls into my ‘Why oh WHY couldn’t I have thought of this’ category. It’s clever from beginning to end. The illustrations are bright and friendly, but it’s Viviane Schwarz’s use of flaps that lifts it out of the ordinary. It’s truly interactive, and I know that kids love it as much as I do because when I opened it to write this piece I found it stuffed with pieces of tissue where a three year old visitor had ‘tucked’ the cats in at the end of the book with extra blankets.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat (Paperback)
Dr. Seuss
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I couldn’t put together a list of my favourite books without including a Dr Seuss. To be honest you could swap The Cat in the Hat for Fox in Socks, The Lorax, or any Dr Seuss, but The Cat in the Hat is the first one I reach for when only Seuss will do (I have days like that). I like the limited colour palette, but it’s the rhyming, slightly anarchic story that I love.

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
Cops and Robbers
Cops and Robbers (Paperback)
Allan Ahlberg; Janet Ahlberg
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I could pretty much be happy with any Janet and Allan Ahlberg book here, and in fact I’ve just spent a very pleasant hour sat on the floor reading a selection out loud to myself (it’s one of the perks of my job!) I could have chosen any Jolly Postman, and Burglar Bill came close, but in the end I chose Cops and Robbers because I couldn’t resist Grandma Swag . . . who could? ‘Hallo, hallo,’ said Officer Pugh, ‘Now then, what’s going on here?’ ‘Not much, young man,’ Said the criminal gran, ‘We’re just having a robbery, dear.’ I was quite glad she got away!

Emily Gravett - 10/11/2011
Millions
Millions (Paperback)
Frank Cottrell Boyce
 
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This is a wonderful book for many reasons – it’s a happy book, and that’s a really good thing, but the most wonderful part of it for me is the relationship between Damian and Anthony, two brothers who stumble over a vast pile of cash, and then get into all sorts of trouble as a result.

Marcus Sedgwick - 26/09/2013
Fly by Night
Fly by Night (Paperback)
Frances Hardinge
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A zany, brilliant, funny story.

Lauren Kate - 15/06/2012
The Magic Pudding
Norman Lindsay
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Sticking with food, and indeed with colourful characters: Albert, the cut-and-come-again runaway pud, is a joy. I’m thrilled that this brilliant Australian classic is still available. It made me the anarchist I am today. In which spirit: Albert is a Puddin’. Any mimsy, namby-pamby Apostrophe Thieves who insist on the g should be put on the RHS pest list!

Lindsey Davis - 20/03/2012
Season Songs
Season Songs (Paperback)
Ted Hughes
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Hughes is one of the most powerful imagists in the language and his portraits of wildlife and landscape have a compelling, precise and unsentimental sense of what is so other in nature. This collection includes brilliantly perceptive poems on such familiar species as swift, swallow, song thrush and starling.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012

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