Reluctant Readers

Reluctant Readers Pack (Primary Key Stage 1 & 2)

Reluctant Readers Pack (Primary Key Stage 1 & 2)

Ref: 12719

Voted Children's Publisher of the Year (Independent Publishing Awards 2007), Barrington Stoke have a decade of experience in publishing books for the dyslexic, struggling, disenchanted and reluctant reader. Here are some of our reviewer's favourites. 10 Books Members Price 60.00 **Suitable substitutions will be made if any title becomes unavailable**
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All Sorts to Make a World

All Sorts to Make a World

by John Agard
illustrated by Michael Broad

Ref: 14198

Shona and her Dad have enjoyed their trip to the Natural History Museum, especially the display of Lucy, a 3.2-million-old skeleton found in Ethiopia. But things go a little awry on the way back home... Stuck a tube in a tunnel, all Shona can do is try to enjoy the company of Tattoo Fellow, Pinstripe Man, Kindle Woman and her Dad's spooky jumbie tales. A funny and super-silly celebration of our diverse capital city and its quirky residents. By an acclaimed poet and playwright (Agard received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2012). Age 7-11 Paperback 49pp
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Butterflies for Grandpa Joe

Butterflies for Grandpa Joe

by Nicola Davies
illusrated by Mike Byrne

Ref: 17053

Grandpa Joe and Granny Lou used to love showing Ben their thriving garden of weeds and blooms, buzzing with bugs, birds and butterflies. They called it their 'private jungle'. But ever since Granny Lou passed away, the garden has gone still and grey. And, Grandpa Joe sits silently, in the dark, on his sofa. He can't even be temped outside by the butterflies. Can Ben bring them to him? A lovely grandparent/grandchild relationship set amidst a wider story of family conflict, transitions, healing, loss and recovery. 'A heart-warming tale of a family finding itself again after a bereavement; (Elena, Community Librarian, Letterbox Library reviewer). 'A lovely book dealing with loss and bereavement and the not too nice side of isolation and withdrawing into oneself' (Elaine, Foster Care Associates Liaison Officer, Letterbox Library reviewer). Chapter book with b&w illustrations. Age 8-12, Paperback 83pp
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Close Look, Quick Look Teachers Pack + Book

Close Look, Quick Look Teachers Pack + Book

Ref: 8224

Differentiated photocopiable activities to support both the novel and the 4u2read version of the story. The activities cover a range of tasks in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and develop the pupil's comprehension skills and knowledge of the text. Suitable for Primary Age 9+. Book 'Friday Forever' by Annie Dalton is included with the teachers pack.
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The Girl with her Head in the Clouds: The Amazing Life of Dolly Shepherd

The Girl with her Head in the Clouds: The Amazing Life of Dolly Shepherd

by Karen McCombie
illustrated by Anneli Bray

Ref: 16698

Meet a homegrown Edwardian female balloonist and parachutist! Dolly was just a teenager when she launched herself into the skies, beginning her career as an aeronaut and performing, amongst other places, at Alexandra Palace. 'The wonderful story of Dolly Shepherd deserves the wide audience that I hope this book will achieve!' (Eileen, Former Primary Teacher, Letterbox Library reviewer). Age 8-12, Paperback 96pp
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The Greatest Show of All

The Greatest Show of All

Ref: 16247

Tom wants to ride circus horses but Pa says his job is to work in the stables. Kitty wants to work in the stables but Pa is clear that it's "no work for a girl". And then, suddenly one day, Tom disappears. Has he fled to Huxley's Circus? Kitty determines to find out. But that will take some undercover work...enter Kit, the Stable Lad and a Twelfth Night-inspired story of gentle subversions and mistaken identities. (And, as with Shakespeare's play, includes a lovely layering of same-sex romantics!). Rich characterisations and a satisfyingly twisty-turny plot in a highly accessible read- typical of 'reluctant reader' publisher experts, Barrington Stoke). Reading Age 8+, Interest Age 10-14, Paperback 95pp
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Journey Back to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story

Journey Back to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story

Ref: 16943

"My name is Olaudah, but I have had so many names: Michale, Jacob, Gustavus and Olauda. Olaudah is the name my parents gave me. The other names were given to mne as a slave. So you, my friend, may call me Olu" . Aged 11, Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped from Essaka, West Africa, and sold in to slavery. Passed between 'owners' on land and on sea, Equiano finally bought back his freedom. He went on to become perhaps the most famous member of the Sons of Africa campaigning group in London and went on to write the seminal 1789 work, The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written by Himself, still in print some 200 years later. Equiano's contribution to the abolition of slavery was critical. And, his presence in UK History should loom much larger. His journey to freedom and his life as a free man were, also, complex, not at all straightforward. Only such an accomplished middle grade historian as Catherine Johnson (an author weighed down by awards, fellowships and honours) could deliver that knotty biography into a punchy, riveting narrative. And the backnote on how she dealt with her source materials is fascinating. Use those last few pages to launch budding authors of historical fiction. Johnson remains at her great heights. Reading Age 8, Interest Age 9-12, Paperback 104pp
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Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads

Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads

by David Almond
with illustrations by Vladimir Stankovic

Ref: 2450

"We called ourselves the Bad Lads, but it was just a joke". The Bad Lads: pesky little mischief makers or bullies in the making? With the arrival of German refugee, Klaus, in post-war Newcastle, some of the lads start to question their gang leader's ideas of entertainment- especially when it comes to tormenting the local 'conchie'. 'Interesting interweaving of conscientious objection, bullying and gang mentality' (Cariad, Theatre Lecturer, LL reviewer). Reading Age 7 Interest 9-14, Paperback 55pp
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Nadine Dreams of Home

Nadine Dreams of Home

by Bernard Ashley
with illustrations by Ollie Cuthbertson

Ref: 2451

Shortlisted for Little Rebels Award 2015 Nadine and her family flee the civil conflict and rebel army in Goma to start over in the UK. But school is a strange and frightening place to Nadine until a teacher finds her a special picture which reminds her of home. 'This short book conveys some of the sense of strangeness, fear and unhappiness children like Nadine experience. It also provides an optimistic ending of a kind that can help children believe it is possible for situations to improve' (Prof. Kim Reynolds, Newcastle University & Little Rebels Judge). Reading Age 7+ Interest 8-12, Paperback 47pp
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Needle

Needle

Ref: 16788

Winner Little Rebels Award 2023 Charlene loves to knit. It stills her mind. It soothes her racing heart. Especially when she has to bear her foster sibling's taunts. Especially when she longs to see her baby sister again. Especially when all of the systems seem set against her. But it's not long before the click! click! just isn't enough to contain her... It is an incredible feat that this award-winning author, famed for her satisfyingly weighty, thrillers (Orangeboy, Eight Pieces of Silva etc.), has been able to condense her passionate commitment to wide-ranging social justice issues and her intricate plots into such a slim, super-pacey novella. As ever, Lawrence's tightly observed characterisations show her compassion and respect for young people. The sometimes-infuriating, always-engaging, Charlene lies at the heart of this story, a blazing force of pent up frustrations, seeded in her by the institutions which have failed her as often as they have supported her. And so, in amongst the wise and caring actions of adults* such as foster carer Annie, social worker Vera, teacher Ms Nzegwu and lawyer Shelley, there are also the adults who underestimate her, ignore her, write her off, criminalise her and who simply don't pay her the attention she is due. We clearly see here how readily young Black girls are put at risk of adultification by our justice and welfare systems. And while, as readers, we long -like the adults in her life- for Charlene to sometimes, just sometimes, preserve herself and smooth the way by saying 'sorry', we also applaud the clarity and wit with which she exposes the hypocrisy of the (predominately adult) people around her, signed up members of the sorry-not-sorry club. A brilliantly accomplished, heart-tripping, contemporary novella which will let the young people in your life know they have been heard. [*How Lawrence is able to portray both young people and middle aged women with equal measure of authenticity, warmth and respect earns my admiration every time]. Reading Age 8+, Interest Age 11+, Paperback 128pp
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Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

Race to the Frozen North: The Matthew Henson Story

Ref: 2862

The totally incredible but true story of the first American to reach the North Pole- a Black orphan runaway called Matthew Henson. Not only does this account give all due respect to Henson's 'discovery', it also honours his Inuit companions with warmth and passion. An excellent book for prompting discussions about the subjectivity of history, the erasure of BAME and indigenous histories, the impact of colonisation. An excellent book also for those who simply enjoy a spirited, smart-paced, adventure story. Yet again, author Catherine Johnson delivers us gripping, sizzling fiction based on a more accurate history than the one many of us were taught- one which is teeming with the lives of those who have so often been silenced, forgotten, ignored. Age 8-12, Paperback 118pp
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Rat

Rat

Ref: 16794

"These are the promises Mum made when social services said we were allowed to live together again. 1) Mum would give up her bad friends. 2) She would make sure we always had food and it was going to be healthy. 3) She would stop smoking. 4) She would use the money she saves from not smoking to buy fruit and vegetables". One of our favourite, award-wining, authors, now recruited for a new 'super-readable' series, ideal for reluctant readers. Al's beloved mum has been in and out of prison, leaving Al to move between various family members' and foster homes. This time, his Mum has been caught shoplifting-for food to feed him. She's going to prison again. Al is very clear who's to blame for her being sent down. And that person lives downstairs. Revenge is tantalisingly close to hand. Revenge is sweet. And with pet rats, Venom and Vulture, let loose, what could possibly go wrong... Lawrence is on form with her trademark accelerating plots and impeccable research (here, on the wider prison and criminal justice systems) and she is, as ever, comfortably and keenly attuned to young people's voices. No plot spoilers here. Some fantastic back notes: information on prison, borstals and rats (!); a roll call of characters; suggestions for further reading; questions & quiz; a vital glossary ['mussed up', 'wasteman']. Part of Oxford University Press' 'Super-Readable Rollercoatsers' series in association with Barrington Stoke, edited to be dyslexia-friendly and accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible. Age: 9+, Paperback 147pp
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Respect

Respect

Ref: 8555

The true stroy of Walter Tull, the first black outfield player in professional football and the first ever black officer in the British army. An exciting and well overdue biography of this little known hero. Reading Age 8+ Interest Age 12+ Paperback 58pp
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Robot Girl

Robot Girl

by Malorie Blackman
illustrated by Matthew Griffin

Ref: 2538

It's by Malorie Blackman so it is, of course, magnificent! Claire's Dad is an inventor but he's being ever so secretive- and when the big reveal comes along, Claire can only see... a monster! But who are the androids? Who are the humanoids? Who are the real monsters? Twisty, turny, provocative, stimulating and smart sci-fi. 'Feels deceptively simple but addresses isolation, stigma, prejudice, growing up and what it means to belong in society and in a family' (Patrice, Author, LL reviewer). Age 8-12 Paperback 58pp
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Run Wild

Run Wild

Ref: 15909

"It's been our wild place, somewhere we haven't been told what to do or been marked by or graded by school. Even friendship hasn't been measured in the number of likes. It's been real". Izzy's dad has lost his job and her mum is exhausted from her shifts at the local supermarket. Escaping the tensions at home and the ever-present threat of local top dogs, the Skull brothers, Izzy and her friend, Asha, find the perfect outdoor patch to get in their skateboarding practise- a deserted gasworks. But they soon discover this patch of wilderness is already a home- to a wild and injured wolf- as well as under threat by developers. A narrative about so much: the lack of space for many children to play in and explore, the loss of wilderness, the need to re-wild our landscapes, the grip big business have over precious land resources. A perfectly accomplished 'reluctant reader' book, communicating a wealth of detail and thought in a sparse carefully considered text. Set in London amidst a working class community. Age 8-12, Paperback 106pp
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Sam

Sam

Ref: 15544

"For a few years, I've wondered if I will 'grow out of it', and change my mind about how I'm feeling, but I don't think I will. It's like someone telling me I'm not hungry when I know I'm starving". Sam feels like they're on the brink of a huge decision, that they're ready to take this leap and that they want to share that with the people they love. But Mum is so busy working two jobs to make ends meet. Dad has left home. Sam's friends are pretty much all online these days. Which of them will be ready to share Sam's journey? An ultimately positive story about a young person who feels ready to explore transitioning. Refreshing to see this narrative in a format pitched at reluctant or disengaged readers. Short snappy sentences, clear block paragraphs and an effective structure of two points of view (Sam's and Mum's). 'A lot going on in a small book but very readable. Good to have a positive ending' (Rosalind, Workforce Dev. Officer, Letterbox reviewer). 'The dual nature of the narrative encourages empathy. There are few books with trans characters. Taking in things like tensions between parents and children and family break-up, as well as the protagonist's identity, this has the feel of a book for everyone which isn't always the case. It's to be welcomed' (Mark, Equalities Trainer and board of Gendered Intelligence, Letterbox reviewer). Reading Age: 8-9; Interest: 12+, Paperback 33pp
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Scarlet Hood

Scarlet Hood

by Mark Evans
illustrated by Isobel Lundie

Ref: 16269

Scarlet comes from an 'itchy feet' family so moving to Norway is no big deal... but she hadn't reckoned with her new school being home to Greta the Cruel, a mean menacing giant of a child. After tearfully spilling out her woes to her Grandma (helped along by a few marshmallows) Scarlet is sent back out into the world wearing a treasured family heirloom: a scarlet hoodie. The hoodie doesn't just hug her with happiness and hope, it time-travels her off to an ancient world of Vikings. Here, Scarlet discovers hidden reserves of strength which equip her back in the present. A highly original, fun and, insightful adventure of bullying overcome with a heart-warming resolution. (Graphic novel perfect for reluctant readers.) Age 6-10, Paperback 52pp
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Shadow Girl

Shadow Girl

Ref: 2452

"This story is going to sound strange. I can't help that. I can only tell you what happened". So begins a brilliant, gripping time slip narrative by award-winning Nicholls. Clare is in foster care and is sick of moving on. But then she meets Maddy, a strange girl who makes her look at things differently and who also seems to know a thing or two about being in care. Reviewed by two Letterbox Library readers with experience of working with and on behalf of looked-after children. 'The attitudes and feelings reflected were so true to those of many children in care' (Elaine, Foster Care Associates, LL Reviewer). Reading Age 8+ Interest 12-16, Paperback 66pp
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Shona, Word Detective

Shona, Word Detective

by John Agard
illustrated by Michael Broad

Ref: 16728

Shona is a word detective, logging interesting words in her very special notebook. One night she learns on the news that a great many words are becoming extinct- just like the dodo! With the help of lexicographer, Professor Crystal-Bloomer, plus parrot, Polly, can Shona pull off a word rescue mission? Plenty of word play flashed through with moments on social justice and with a very identifiable multicultural UK setting. By the winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and the recent Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award (2021). Reading Age 7+ Interest Age 8-12, Paperback 55pp
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Splash Day!

Splash Day!

Ref: 16171

A full-up paddling pool shimmers in the playground and buckets of water stand poised around the bushes- what's up? It's Splash Day! Time for a water fight! A delighted group of children -and teachers- don their best swim suits, shower caps and goggles and then arm themselves with water pistols for a glorious day of drenching. With just one sentence per page and Sharratt's trademark, bright and bold illustrations, this is a perfect beginner reader. 'Loved this. Children will love it too. Inclusive, joyous fun. Let's hope lots of children read this and more schools have a Splash Day' (Eileen, Former Primary Teacher, LL reviewer). Multicultural and includes a very independent and super-active wheelchair user. Inspired by an actual Splash Day which takes place every year in a school in Brighton. Age 5-8, Paperback 65pp
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A Strange Land

A Strange Land

Ref: 2692

"There are these people. They've got something on me. In turn, I've got something on one of the refugee boys. Hassan is new, so he doesn't have anything on anybody. He just wants to fit in". The Blokes are a group of boys at Jack's school, united in their fight to bully and ostracise the refugee, Black and Asian children. Jack befriends Hassan, a Syrian refugee who has just recently arrived- but now, the Blokes have given him orders to take Hassan down or else..." Will Hassan survive and will Jack finally learn to do the right thing? A timely story about racism, anti-immigrant prejudice, bullying and the power of friendship to triumph over hate. Reading Age 7+ Interest 10-14, Paperback 57pp
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Swan Song

Swan Song

Ref: 17224

"Somehow everything changed at secondary school. I had felt so angry and sad- all mixed up. But people only saw me angry. I wouldn't let them see me cry". Excluded from school, Dylan and his mum have to relocate to live with Grandad in rural Wales. Here, Dylan slowly heals and reconnects with himself through the balm of his new environment and with Grandad's guiding hand. An "outstanding novella" ('The Bookseller' 2021) which explores a wide range of issues*. For us, we especially welcome the ways the narrative centres boys and men breaking free of gender stereotypes and learning new, 'healthy' ways of expressing their painful feelings, from Grandad's grief ("Back then, men weren't mean to show feelings") to Dylan's pent up anger. From the author who won a Little Rebels Award Special Commendation in 2018. (*Animal welfare, grief, threat to rural life, family break-up). "I loved this book- beautifully written and a real range of themes explored: child/adolescent mental health; grief and loss; rupture and repair in relationships" (Hannah, young Letterbox Library reviewer). Age 8-12, Paperback 119pp
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Tilly's Promise

Tilly's Promise

Ref: 2683

Influenced by Sassoon's poetry and Vera Brittain's testament of Youth, the prestigious award-wining author, Lidna Newbery, pens a story about a lesser known aspect of World War I- the experience of young men with learning difficulties. Set in rural Essex and told from the perspective of Georgie's sister, Tilly, this is also a fine story about the experience of young women during the war and the shifting gender expectations required by the war 'effort'. An original take which works well to expose the distress, confusion and horros of war. Reading Age 8+ Interest 9-13, Paperback 86pp Barrington Stoke offer a downloadable guide for teachers to lead a mixedability group through Tillys Promise by Linda Newbery here.
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Toad Attack!

Toad Attack!

by Patrice Lawrence
illustrated by Becka Moor

Ref: 15762

With chapter headers like "A Toad Called Twerky" and "A Toad on the Head", who could resist this amphibian onslaught? The story opens with a toad falling on the head of Leo Hogg and ends with a caution to check the skies for flying toads. In between, Upper Dad residents, Leo and Rosa try to solve the mystery of the plague of toads sending their town into a spin. A laugh-aloud adventure complete with a breakfast television show called 'Frosty Morning' and teachers named after children's top picks of snacks- Mr Pringle and Miss Quaver. 'Brilliantly light and funny' (Fen, Letterbox Library staff). BAME lead characters and excellent 'casual' portrayals of disability and same-sex parents: 'Lovely relaxed portrayal of Rosa's hearing impairment [Rosa both signs and speaks]...and a quite rare picture of gay people for whom it's not a plot point or issue' (Elena, Community Librarian, LL). Age 8-12, Paperback 67pp
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Unboxed

Unboxed

Ref: 2680

"It seems worse to break a promise to the dead than it does to break one made to the living". So begins this intriguing little mystery, as old school friends gather together to fulfil a promise made five years ago- to open and share the contents of a memory box in honour of their friend who has since died of stomach cancer. With friendships made and broken, revelations, confessions, internal turmoils and reconciliations, this is the perfect stuff of pacy heart-gripping teen fiction. It also includes a nice little twist on the traditional LGBT coming out story tradition: the first person narrative belongs to Alix, a young lesbian who is nervous about this reunion- not because of her sexuality itself but, refreshingly, because she kept this a secret from her friends and fears they will feel hurt. 'I liked that this is a book in which somebody comes out without it being a coming out novel...The author has not only zoned in on a very genuine concern about coming out for many young people but also made the character and story more accessible to many readers- not just those who identify as LGBTQI...As an added bonus, the design is terrific- I felt very cool reading it on the tube!' (Mark Jennett, Equalities Trainer/Consultant, LL reviewer). From Barrington Stoke, expert publishers in reluctant-reader friendly/dyslexia-friendly fiction. Reading Age 8+ Interest 12+, Paperback 138pp
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Under The Skin

Under The Skin

by Catherine MacPhail
illustrated by Tom Percival

Ref: 9126

Omar's family have finally found refuge- a tower block in the UK. But local boy Sam keeps pushing Omar around. A brilliantly observed, witty and snappy narrative which challenges preconceptions about asylum seekers. Reading Age 8+ Interest 8-12, Paperback 52pp
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Until We Win

Until We Win

Ref: 2758

An award winning novelist brings spark and fire to this Suffragette story for young people, centring on 17-year-old, working class, Lizzie. The fight for the women's vote is explored with honesty and passion, showing the rallies, the direct actions and the hunger strikes. (N.b.: there is also a nice touch to the novel's conclusion as it suggests Lizzie and Connie form a relationship going forwards.) 'Well drawn and engaging characters and a nice sense of period' (Mark, Equalities Trainer/Consultant, LL reviewer). Reading Age 8+ Interest Age 10-14, Paperback 85pp
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Who's a Big Bully Then?

Who's a Big Bully Then?

Ref: 7143

How will Olly the bull help our hero defeat the bully Darren bishop? A great story about doing your best. Reading Age 8+, Interest 8-10, 61pp Paperback
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Worry Angels

Worry Angels

by Sita Brahmachari
illustrated by Jane Ray

Ref: 2880

Amy's parents have separated, she and her mum have moved away, Secondary School looms and Amy's anxiety levels are being pushed in to overdrive. So much so that Amy becomes a school refuser. But then comes the opportunity to attend Grace Nuala's Art School. She is soon joined by Rami, a recent refugee to the UK from Syria, a witness to and victim of some of the worst humanity the world has to offer. And yet, Rami insists on and claims an identity beyond 'Refugee'. Together, these two girls form a friendship which slowly, delicately but determinedly transforms them through its strength and balm. Brahmachari at her best- full of her trademark compassion for and respectful honouring of young people's lives and voices. 'An excellent book- I read it in one sitting!' (Sylvia, Children's Social Work Director, LL reviewer). Age 8-12, Interest 8-12, Paperback 96pp
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