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Freedom fighters, vloggers, climate activists and reluctant superheroes – a selection of inspiring books for tweens and teens.

They may be books for tweens and teens, but we found them inspiring too.


A girl called JoyA Girl Called Joy

By Jenny Valentine (Simon & Schuster, R180) – Read more from Jonathan Ball

“Come on, Joy,” Dad says, and Mum says, “You can find a silver lining on any cloud.” Normally Joy can find the upside to any situation. But things have changed. Her globetrotting family has moved into their grandfather’s flat in the United Kingdom. Accustomed to a life of exploring the beaches of Zanzibar or the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica, Joy and her sister, Claude (rhymes with bored), must make peace with their new reality in a house and town “on the smallest atom on the head of a pin stuck in the world map”. Award-winning English children’s novelist Jenny Valentine brings an uplifting story of hope and optimism that will encourage young readers to fall in love with 10-year-old Joy and her quirky family. A lovely first book in a new series about family, friends and life. 



Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg: First Names

By Tracey Turner (David Fickling Children, R180)

Most people know who Greta Thunberg is, but this book will explain why this teenage climate activist was inspired by a polar bear and how she sailed to America on a solar-powered yacht with a real-life prince. This book, with illustrations by Tom Knight, will allow the reader to get to know Greta on first-name terms. An inspirational and informative read that includes tips on how to help protect the environment.


Pizazz vs Perfecto Pizzaz

By Sophy Henn (Simon & Schuster UK Children, R180)

Another rollicking adventure from the world’s most reluctant superhero. Pizazz would rather be at a roller disco or reading a book than defeating evil baddies. But, as a superhero, she has responsibilities. The good news is that everyone in her family is a superhero, so they can go on missions together. Find out how Pizazz deals with super baddie Perfecto in this easy-to-read, action-packed adventure that is also illustrated by author Sophy Henn. Ideal for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Serena SaysSerena Says

By Tanita S Davis (HarperCollins Children US, R120)

Serena shares almost everything about her life in videos for her blog; even her disappointment when her best friend returned from hospital with a new kidney – and a new best friend. On video, Serena feels that she is funny and clever. But when it comes to voicing her feelings in real life, Serena hits pause. Why can’t she be sparkling and engaging like her friend, JC? Award-winning author Tanita Davis provides a charming and honest slice-of-life account of one tween’s search for her own voice while dealing with weighty issues such as mental health and ethnic diversity. Serena is likeable and relatable – an affirming read for children navigating the often-confusing years between childhood and the teens. 


The Sisters of Reckoning Sisters of Reckoning

By Charlotte Nicole Davis (Hot Key Books Children, R190)

In this much-anticipated sequel to The Good Luck Girls, Aster remains in the dystopian Arketta to help more girls escape from welcome houses. As she realises that more girls are being subjugated, Aster and her friends become a group of fearless freedom fighters. In pursuit of freedom, the girls forge friendships, mourn lost lives and even find love. Fast-paced and packed with multi-dimensional characters, this is a book teen readers will be reluctant to put down. 

General Knowledge

General Knowledge Quizzes for Clever Kids

By Joe Fullman, Chris Dickason (Michael O’Mara Books, R90)

Do you know what fruit smell your cat can’t stand? The answer to this and 999 other fascinating brain busters can be found in this delightful quiz book. There are quick-fire quizzes, picture rounds, odd-ones-out and multiplayer games. There are even puzzles for adults. Categories include animals and nature, science and technology, space, history, travel and geography, arts and anatomy. Still scratching your head about a cat’s least favourite fruit? Cats can’t stand the smell of citrus. 

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