August’s books of the month from the team at Kemps Malton

Seed by Caryl Lewis

Seed is a big-hearted tale about the importance of hope even when it seems that the odds are against you.

Young Marty has a lot on his plate. He lives with his mum and the ever-growing mountains of rubbish that she just can’t bear to part with. Life at school is not much better as the ‘new trainer kids’ target him with their nasty jokes and mean comments. The only place he feels vaguely calm is on his grandfather’s allotment where he is given the attention, time and space that every youngster needs to thrive. The trouble is that Marty’s mother and grandfather share a fraught relationship and, as his mother’s only friend, Marty feels helpless to do anything about the very real prospect that her hoarding could cause them to lose their house.

When all seems hopeless, Marty meets Gracie, a girl with big dreams whose resilience (she is dealing with her deafness) and friendship gradually enables Marty to dream too. With the help of Marty’s grandfather’s special seed, they embark on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Caryl Lewis’ story is told sensitively and reveals the challenging aspects of family life that some children are faced with. However, it is also filled with a great deal of friendship, magic and love.

Published by Pan Macmillan ISBN 9781529077667 Paperback £7.99

Starting School by Janet and Alan Ahlberg

Gazette & Herald: Starting School by Janet and Alan AhlbergStarting School by Janet and Alan Ahlberg

From husband-and-wife team whose children’s books have achieved classic status, Starting School is a gentle and reassuring picture book that teaches children about what to expect on their first day of school and beyond.

Alan Ahlberg’s text is marvelously simple and yet loaded with information about the children who are starting school, their families, their teacher and their school. From the first pages, children will see others – just like them – settling into their new class. Ahlberg lists the first names of all the children who then go through the list of things they find in the classroom, from the toilets to their class pet rabbit. This simple and reassuring feature is repeated throughout the book which takes the children from the first day to the first week and on to the end of the first term culminating in the school nativity play at Christmas.

Starting School is full of gentle humor and reassuring practicality. Ahlberg’s perfectly worded description of life in a reception class is accompanied by Janet Ahlberg’s friendly and busy illustrations which are equally full of information and humor. This is a beautiful book that children will return to again and again, long after they have settled into their own school.

Published by Penguin Random House ISBN 9780723273462 Paperback £6.99

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

Gazette & Herald: The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin MyersThe Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

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Durham born and now living in West Yorkshire, Benjamin Myers writes compelling contemporary fiction across the historical, gothic and rural noir genres. He has won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction with Gallows Pole and the Portico Prize for his novel beastings. His most recent best-selling novel, The Offingwas adapted for a stage play at The Stephen Joseph Theatre.

The Perfect Golden Circle centers on the unlikely friendship of two men who occupy the margins of society. Redbone is a kind of modern Blakean character who is prone to visions, listens to punk and calls his old camper van home; Calvert is a veteran of the Falklands War, traumatized by his experience and now living without life, ‘Existence is simply there, like a lightbulb or a downpour, until it isn’t’. Under the scorching sun of summer, 1989, Redbone and Calvert create together increasingly intricate crop circles. It is a project that gives them both a focus, forges a strong bond between them and gives these two otherwise unseen figures a presence in society.

The Perfect Golden Circle sees Myers departing from his previously favored location of northern England and introducing an engaging dry wit into his storytelling that helps the reader collude in the subversive aspects of Calvert and Redbone’s activities. It is also a quietly compelling account of male friendship and a profoundly human account of how we make sense of the world. For those who enjoyed the recent BBC show, The Detectoristthis book is a must-read.

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 9781526631442 Hardback £16.99

The Flow: Rivers, Water and Wildness by Amy-Jane Beer

Gazette & Herald: The Flow: Rivers, Water and Wildness by Amy-Jane BeerThe Flow: Rivers, Water and Wildness by Amy-Jane Beer

Amy-Jane Beer is a local author, based in rural North Yorkshire, whose life-long fascination with the natural sciences has resulted in a prolific number of publications, including A Tree A Day, and this, her latest novel. She is no stranger to Kemps and often pops in for a book or a chat and most recently was in conversation with Rob Cowen at The Milton Rooms, discussing his work and providing the audience with a teaser of her much-anticipated new book The Flow: Rivers, Water and Wildness.

The Flow is first and foremost a book about water, and Beer cleverly weaves its story, much as the rivers themselves meander, trickle, and cascade throughout the British countryside, into a collection of musings about the many lives, landscapes, and stories it touches and influences . We are taken on a watery odyssey from West Country torrents to the chalk rivers of the Yorkshire Wolds. Yet the book starts with a poignant visit to the Rawthey in Cumbria, which happens to be the location of a dear friend’s death, lost in a tragic kayaking accident, where Beer’s love of rivers is unexpectedly reignited and a new phase of exploration is born, resulting in this delightful book. The chapter Heartland is a particular favorite and struck a chord, but the whole book is a joy to read and is replete with Beer’s wise prose and her all-pervasive warmth and charm.

The Flow is a thoroughly fascinating read and is written so beautifully and with such lyricism that it keeps you gripped. This erudite book is a joyful combination of science, nature, history, and mythology and yet manages to be so much more than the sum of its parts, forming a genuinely moving voyage of discovery of our ecological and personal place in the nature that surrounds us .

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 9781472977397 Hardback £18.99

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