The Hours Before Dawn

This beautifully written psychological thriller was written in 1950s London and follows an exhausted housewife called Louise.
Her lack of sleep, due to her baby son’s sudden outbursts of hectic crying, causes Louise to lose her sense of what is reality.
A mysterious lodger, Ms Brandon, causes even more tension in Louise’s chaotic life when suspicions arise about her identity, and why she is there.
The Hours Before Dawn proves as shockingly relevant to readers today as when it was first written. A must-read book that builds an atmosphere of mounting suspense.

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by Celia Fremlin

Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter is a heart-breaking novel about a 14-year-old boy called Joseph Brook. He has an unusual obligation for someone so young – to look after his daughter, Jupiter.
Jupiter was taken into care after Joseph was sent to a juvenile facility for almost killing a teacher. Joseph has a burning desire to find his daughter, and Jack, his 12 year old foster brother is keen to help him.
Follow the two boys in their gripping adventure. Schmidt’s words are beautiful but tragic and the story he tells is beyond a must-read. A short and satisfying novel for anyone who desires a real story.
This is a young-adult fiction which falls between the tragedy and romance genres. The book was chosen by New York bestselling author Jennifer Niven for the Zoella book club 2017.

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By Gary D. Schmidt

New Baby on the way

The arrival of a new baby has a big effect on the existing children in the family and books, both fiction and non-fiction, are an obvious way to prepare them for the changes that lie ahead. As a result, there are masses of story books around on this topic but their quality varies enormously. Some paint such a rosy picture that children are sure to be disappointed and some (often the same ones) are just not interesting enough to stand repeated reading. The best stories are good to read aloud with an enjoyable story that provides an opportunity to talk about babies and let children voice their fears.

What’s inside your Tummy, Mummy?
by Abby Cocovini
(Red Fox)
This innovative non-fiction book takes readers through the various stages of pregnancy, with life-size pictures showing how the baby is developing. The accompanying text is clear and easy-to-read, with plenty of white space to make it look accessible. It uses language that children can understand and concentrates on facts that are likely to catch their interest. In particular, it relates the baby’s size to real objects, including a baked bean, an orange and a loaf of bread. This book helps children share in the progress of Mum’s pregnancy and is a particularly good choice for those who are too old for many of the other books on this page.
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Welcome to the World
compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith
(Barefoot Books)
This is a collection of poetry about babies from about the world. Beautifully capturing the emotions of birth and parenting, it shows that those feelings are universal and independent of race and creed. Illustrated with large black and white photographs, it’s a book to treasure and a lovely gift for the whole family.
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Tom and the Tree House
by Joan Lingard
Tom’s adoptive parents are delighted when the doctors are proved wrong and his mum becomes pregnant. But Tom is worried. This baby is really theirs in a way he can never be. Surely they will love her more than him. A very perceptive junior novel about a particularly sensitive situation.
Ages 6-9
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When the Teddy Bears Came by Martin Waddell
(Walker Books)
When baby Alice comes to Tom’s house, she brings a bear with her and so do all the visitors who come to greet the new arrival. Soon there are so many bears that Tom worries there isn’t any room left for him but, of course, there is and all ends happily with Mum, Dad and Tom looking after the bears and the baby together. The delightful story is complemented by softly, realistic illustrations with each of the bears having its own individual character. An ideal choice for toddlers.
Ages 2-5
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I Want a Sister by Tony Ross
(Andersen Press)
The Little Princess is delighted there is a new baby on the way but there is one problem – she only wants a sister. Brothers are smelly and rough and have all the wrong toys. Naturally the baby turns out to be a boy but she soon cheers up when her parents assure her they didn’t want a girl because they already had her. Great fun to read aloud, especially for little girls, Little Princess fans and others who share her determination to only have a baby the same sex as themselves.
Ages 2-6
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Brand New Baby
by Bob Graham
(Walker Books)
The author of this book definitely hasn’t any rose-coloured glasses. It’s a funny but realistic look at the arrival of a new baby in the Arnold family. Edward and Wendy start off enthusiastic about the idea of a new brother or sister but are not so keen when Walter actually arrives and monopolises their parents’ attention. Good for children who are already aware of the downside of babies and need reassurance that things will improve eventually. Less good for younger children and the uninitiated who may be worried at the idea of Mum having less time for them.
Ages 5+
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Along Came Eric
by Gus Clarke
(Andersen Press)
Nigel, who looks about 5, is very happy until baby Eric comes along and takes everyone’s attention. As Eric grows up things improve – people take notice of both of them and the two boys actually start to like each other. This very simple story is brought alive by the illustrations which are packed with funny details. There is no mention of Dad which may make this
especially suitable for some family situations.
Ages 4+ including older children with special needs
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