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Meet our Book Doctor... Sophie Kirtley, author of The Wild Way Home

In our Book Doctor feature, we welcome a guest to prescribe just the right read for any mood or occasion.

Sophie Kirtley, author of stunning timeslip adventures The Wild Way Home and The Way to Impossible Island, has joined us to prescribe some brilliant books for young readers.

I have an 8-year-old who loves to talk to me about books and we still love a bedtime read together, but we keep picking the same authors (Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine, Alex T. Smith). Can you recommend any new and upcoming authors that would good to look out for? – Jennifer, age 34

You and your 8-year-old have great taste in books, Jennifer; those are all authors we love in my family too! But I know what you mean, it’s easy to get caught in a reading spiral. If you enjoy Robin Stevens' and Katherine Woodfine's books then you both clearly LOVE a good mystery (who doesn’t?) so why not try Serena Patel's brilliant Anisha Accidental Detective series? These are not only action packed detective stories, but they're also so clever and quick-witted. If you fancy some warm-hearted, quirky humour (like in Alex T. Smith's Claude and Mr Penguin books) then I utterly recommend The Orphans of St Halibuts by Sophie Wills – she has a follow-up book, Pamela’s Revenge, coming out soon too so keep your eyes peeled for that! Hope you enjoy discovering some new authors!

Anisha Accidental Detective by Serena Patel

I love reading to my 9-year-old son and he loves it too, but I’m struggling to find books that he’ll pick up and read on his own. Any suggestions? – Louise, age 43

Sharing stories is such a joy, isn’t it? I still love being read to and I'm 44! It sounds like your son is enjoying it so much he's a bit nervous of taking flight on his own. Graphic novels and highly illustrated fiction can really help build confidence and independence – why not see if he likes the look of The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. by Jen Carney? It's very funny and the doodle-style illustrations, along with the diary format are instantly appealing. Or perhaps start reading a book together which has a really hooky mystery to unravel and once it’s unputdownable you could start alternating chapters: one shared, one solo etc. I think Jenny Pearson’s hilarious, warm-hearted The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddy Yates would be wonderful for this. Or maybe he'd take a shine to some of the fantastic non-fiction out there at the moment? I absolutely loved Good News: Why the World is Not as Bad as You Think, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Adam Hayes – it's shines a light on the great things happening all around us and is hopeful, informative and fun.

Good luck, Louise! And, by the way, even when your son soars off into the world of solo reading I'm sure he’ll always still love a cuddle and a story with you!

Good News: Why the World is Not as Bad as You Think, by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Adam Hayes

My daughter is age 8.5 and loves reading stories. What books would you recommend for developing her vocabulary without being too overwhelming, or too 'adult' in terms of themes? Many thanks. – Nev

I'm so glad your daughter is such a keen reader, Nev, and it's great that she wants to make adventurous choices with her reading. I love books with rich and exciting vocabulary too – one of my recent reads that might be a good match for your daughter is The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke. It's an exciting story about a talented gang of five best friends set in 19th century Amsterdam. The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum is another utterly absorbing book and again one that doesn't talk down readers. It tells the story of a boy, hidden in the forest, with the power to heal any living creature, but whose power has a dreadful consequence… Another beautiful story I have loved is October, October by Katya Balen – the descriptions of the natural world are exquisite and the story is very touching too.

Happy reading!

The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke by Kirsty Applebaum

My 9-year-old nephew is an avid reader. He’s getting through several books in a week! He really likes books that run in series. What series of children’s books can you recommend to keep him going over the summer holidays? – Sophie

Your nephew appears to be what I call a book-gobbler – a wonderful species: curious, voracious and always hungry for MORE. Books that are part of a series are so great for book-gobblers! If he likes fantasy and dragons I wholeheartedly recommend The Land of Roar books by Jenny McLachlan, and if he fancies something more grounded in the real world, he could try the brilliant Voices series where award-winning authors such as Patrice Lawrence and E.L Norry tell the authentic, unsung stories of our past. Hope your book-gobbling nephew enjoys his holiday book-feast!

The Land of Roar books by Jenny McLachlan

Can you recommend some books that would be suitable for both me and my 11-year-old son to read? I thought we could start a summer book club and read a book separately at the same time and then discuss each chapter after our dinner in the evenings. Thanks. – Wendy, age 40

I love the idea of a summer book club, Wendy – like a holiday in itself! If you fancied a page-turning adventure to start you off then why not head over to the island of Serendib? Both The Girl Who Stole an Elephant and The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook are equally lush and thrilling. Perhaps then you might fancy cooling off in the Arctic Circle? Hannah Gold's The Last Bear is a gorgeous story about a friendship between a girl and a polar bear – the illustrations by Levi Pinfold will also give you lots to chat about. Or perhaps you fancy journeying somewhere a little closer to home? Wonderful Wales perhaps? The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr is exciting, funny, warm and heartfelt, set in WW2 it tells the story of two evacuee brothers who uncover a mystery high in the Welsh hills. It’s one of my all-time favourites! Have a beautiful summer of reading adventures!

The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook
The Way to Impossible Island by Sophie Kirtley

About The Way to Impossible Island by Sophie Kirtley

Born with a serious heart condition, Dara has been waiting for his Big Operation forever, and this summer it's finally going to happen. The moment his heart is fixed he'll row out to the island in the bay all by himself just like he's always dreamed. But when his op is postponed, Dara snaps. When will he get to live his real life? Maybe the adventures he dreams of are just silly fantasies.

And then he finds a girl hiding in the boat shed. She wears animal skins. She has a real live pet wolf. She is, simply, impossible. Could Mothgirl really be from the Stone Age? And what is she seeking on Lathrin Island? As Dara and Mothgirl set out on a wild, windswept sea journey Dara begins to realise that when you stop worrying about what's impossible, you can do anything.

A brave, life-affirming middle-grade timeslip adventure about finding your family and finding yourself, from the author of The Wild Way Home.

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