Twister

Twister by name, Twister by nature.. This is the story of a brave, bright girl; a witch who lives in the woods; a necklace that turns you into a wolf; a rainstorm or a rushing river; and a spine-chilling villain who will stop at nothing to seize it… After the disappearance of her father six months, three days and four hours ago, Twister - named after being born in a storm - sets out to find her Pa, using a mix of a mysterious letter, a magical necklace and the help of a ‘medicine guide’ called Maymay. Whilst out and about searching for clues to bring her father back home, she comes across a cottage in the middle of Holler Woods, a place where danger lurks and darkness descends. Enter Maymay - a caretaker of knowledge? A medicine guide? A witch? A character, no doubt, who could take on a whole new story of her own. Twister is no ordinary character. She’s every inch of what a story’s heroine should be and as her birth name suggests, she is a full force. A girl with fire in her belly with a gritty tenacity and a gutsy heart and soul, albeit with a tinge of emotional vulnerability about her; she is just the gust of fresh air we all need. Deliciously, dangerously dark and thrumming with plot twists and turns aplenty, this is one-of-a-kind fantasy at its frenzied, fictional and feisty finest.

Moth

A book that should be on every classroom bookshelf. Written in beautiful almost poetic, lyrical and lilting prose, its words flutter off its stunningly-illustrated pages straight into its readers’ hearts and minds. The perfect hybrid between picture book and non-fiction, it tells the evolutionary story of the peppered moth and its two different coloured forms and how they adapted to changes in the environment to survive to the moth we know and love today. Combining scientific concepts such as natural selection, adaptation and evolution into a story that’s as entertaining as it is educational and environmentally-aware, this is a science, history and personal, social and health education (PSHE) lesson rolled into one. Highlighting human actions and consequences on the animal kingdom and the natural world, it leaves lasting messages of hope and acts as a call to arms for our future and the life-changing effects that we could experience on our ecosystems. A carefully-considered, thoughtful, reflective and rare book that readers both young and old will take something from. We need more books like this.

Island

​Completely wordless, this is a cataclysm of colour and a picture book to behold. From its dazzling cover to its effervescent spread after effervescent spread, I have never seen a book like this before. To pardon the pun or the irony of it being wordless, words don’t do justice to the quality of this book. A feast not only for the eyes but for all the senses, this visually-striking and stand-out story is one of shipwreck where a father, a daughter and their dog become washed up on a small island. The island however is not as it seems. A protector, a transporter, a giver of wonder but most of all, an untold and unnoticed secret… until its very last pages. This should be used in schools to promote imagination, delight with sheer wonder and create curiosity and amazement. You will spend hours poring over the quality of this as you can’t help but drink it all in. As dashes and splashes of vivid, bright and bold colour become tropical fish, birds and aquatic life with every turn of the page, this book will sweep you off your feet, take you off to shore and make you feel the wind in your hair as you journey on this epic adventure across the ocean. Mark Janssen is one to watch. A book that deserves to be more widely known, praised and celebrated, Island will not only be one of my most favourite picture books but also one of the best books you’ll ever have had the pleasure of reading.

About this month's reviewer

Scott Evans is a primary school teacher and Reading Lead from South Wales. Before training as a teacher, Scott spent seven years working in several libraries and is therefore passionate about #GreatSchoolLibraries and the importance of school librarians and Reading Teachers. He blogs regularly at The Reader Teacher and you can follow him on Twitter @MrEPrimary. More recently, Scott created and hosts #PrimarySchoolBookClub. You can become involved with this by searching the hashtag or by following @PrimarySchoolBC on Twitter.