• Emily

From my bookshelf

This past year has been a bit of a whirlwind so this is my first blog post in a very long time! Teacher training is just as intense as everyone told me it would be and I’ve come out of my PGDE year with even more admiration for teachers. I’ve played with ooblek, made COP 26 placards, untied the most ferocious of shoelace knots, developed a strong stomach, introduced children to the Hagfish and learned a lot about video games. I have heard so many brilliant stories and read so many more and I feel even more strongly about the importance of storytelling. Stories provide connection, recognition, validation, empowerment and so much more.


There’s not been a huge amount of time for reading but every time I handed in an essay or finished a placement I grabbed a book so I wanted to share what I have loved so far this year.


When Life Gives You Mangoes - by Kereen Getten


A pink book cover showing a black girl lying in water surrounded by floating mangoes. A white hand holds it in front of daffodils. The title is "When Life Gives You Mangoes".

I read this book in two sittings it’s just so good! Set in Jamaica, this story follows a girl called Clara who used to surf all the time until something happened last summer which made her afraid of the water. The problem is, she can’t remember what happened. And since then, her best friend is always angry with her. But Clara tries not to think about it too much. Instead she makes friends with the new girl on the island and discovers a family secret, but when a storm approaches, it's time for Clara to find out what actually happened last Summer… This is a deeply moving and beautifully written book with a strong sense of place, and brilliant rounded characters. I loved it and would recommend to anyone 8+.


When Stars are Scattered - by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Book cover for "When Stars are Scattered" showing an illustration of two young boys walking through a refugee camp in a sunset.

This is a graphic novel created by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. It tells the true story of Omar and his brother’s time in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Omar and his brother live in Dadaab for 15 years and this novel heartbreakingly shows just how long this is. Not knowing if he will ever get out of the camp or see his Mum again, Omar persists in getting through each day, looking after his brother, doing chores, and trying to stay hopeful when things continued to remain the same. It is a humane, sensitive and heartwrenching memoir, providing a necessary antithesis to current warped and dangerous news articles about refugees and instead showing the awful realities for people forced to leave their homes as well as nice moments of childhood connection and kindness. I’d really recommend this to 9+.


The Supreme Lie - Geraldine McCaughrean


A kindle shows the black and white front cover of "The Supreme Lie". The illustration shows a girl standing beneath an umbrella as it rains.

I read this book when I was on a very long journey and had to stay awake in the early hours of the morning. This is just the kind of book for those journeys – it is so gripping and twisty-turny. McCaughrean always manages to make things worse and worse and worse for her characters.

Gloria is maid to the head of state – Madame Suprema - of fictional Afalia. When Madame Suprema flees as floods threaten the region, Gloria is forced to pretend to be the Suprema, a decision which throws her into a corrupt and dangerous world of politicians and lies.

This book is fast-paced and thrilling and will open brilliant conversations about contemporary politics, natural disasters, and the impact of the decisions we make. Recommended for 9/10+.


I hope you've been reading some great books this summer - let me know your recommendations on Instagram @pinecone_fish!