Recommended Reads: Lockdown List

Anxiety Tips, Educational Facts and Fun, Reading Lists
Mary Lonsdale
Need a book to get lost in this January? Here's our lockdown list top 3.

2021 is well underway – and, for the British public, January also heralded the commencement of another lockdown.

Not quite the new start any of us were hoping for! At Mentor Education, our thoughts have turned to young people, and the best methods by which to mitigate the sometimes overwhelming pressures of – and anxiety caused by – lockdown. What better way to escape than with a good book?

In this blog, we’ll reveal three of our favourite books for January 2021, all of which will take the reader on a voyage of discovery and/or adventure: the perfect lockdown antidote.

Lockdown List, #1: Voyage of the Sparrowhawk by Natasha Farrant

Forget the novel’s post-World War I setting: whether you’re a fan of historical adventure or simply enjoy a good yarn, Voyage of the Sparrowhawk will grip you from start to finish.

The story, which begins in spring 1919, charts the evolving (and unlikely) relationship (and adventures) of two orphans who are on the run. Ben, who needs to evade detection by the authorities (who will take him into care once they realise his father has died and his elder brother, last seen in France, is missing), teams up with Lotti, who is trying to escape from her horrible guardians. Their only hope is to get to France to find long-lost family members. So, in the dead of night, with a determined policeman and dastardly uncle on their tail, the children set sail across the English Channel on the narrowboat, Sparrowhawk.

Atmospheric and captivating, this novel provides an evocative insight into the devastation wrought by the Great War, as well as introducing some extremely compelling characters – and showing how, even in the bleakest of times, young people can feel empowered to make a difference. We’re not surprised Farrant was crowned winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2020 for this gripping tale: not only is it an epic, exciting adventure, but it’s also brimming with heart.

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

The first in the epic Worldquake series, this book introduces readers to a fantasy world like no other – and a wonderful new feminist heroine in Euphemia ‘Effie’ Truelove. Effie, who is the granddaughter of famous sorcerer Griffin Truelove, lives in a post-technology world (five years before the opening of Dragon’s Green, the world experienced what has become known as the ‘Worldquake’: a global event that wiped out all technology). Truelove refuses to do magic – and he won’t teach Effie how to do it, either; but when he almost dies, Effie is charged with protecting his library of magical compendiums.

Together with her schoolfriends, Max and Wolf, Effie fights to retrieve her grandfather’s books from devious scholar Leonard Lever: facing challenges that test their bravery, cunning, and moral fibre (Effie even combats sexism – brilliantly – when she encounters a dragon who enjoys snacking on princesses, provided they are attractive and adorn themselves with the ‘right’ clothes and make-up).

This fantastic start to the memorable Worldquake series champions strong women, the power of reading, and the value of loyalty and friendship, all the while taking the reader on an epic rollercoaster of a narrative. A real pageturner!

Your Mood Journal by Fearne Cotton

Whilst many parents may remember Fearne Cotton as both a radio and TV presenter, the younger generation are more likely to have stumbled across her inspiring wellness podcast, Happy Place. However you’ve come to know her, one thing is clear: Fearne Cotton is a vocal advocate of mental wellbeing. Her latest book (which is targeted at young people) is a bit of a departure from our usual fiction-centric lists – but a valuable one.

In this book, Cotton, who is a mother of two, discusses – with a friendly, light touch – the difficulty that young people often have when it comes to identifying and expressing emotions. Through helpful exercises and practical tips, Your Mood Journal provides real ways to help children develop their emotional vocabulary: to understand how they feel, why they might feel that way, and what they can do about it. The activities are engaging and sensitive, allowing young people to make vital discoveries through creativity and play.

A crucial resource for parents and children alike – particularly during lockdown.

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