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Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret

Barrington Stoke are well known as the book company to go for children with dyslexia or delayed reading. Books like this once again prove that this publishing company is at the cutting edge - not just for reluctant readers or children with reading disabilities, but for all children. This is another excellent story, dealing with situations most children will face at some time, such as starting a new school, friendship, trust and bullying. The fact that is dyslexia friendly is just an added bonus. This book is as relevant and enjoyable for advanced readers as it is for struggling readers.

Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Exceptional story about friendship and fitting in for tweens and teens with the added bonus of being dyslexia friendly. Karen McCombie popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781121993

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Starting a new school is always tough, and when Tilly is the only girl from her primary to win a place at the more exclusive Beech Cliff School, her old friends abandon her as being too posh. She quickly makes friends with Mia, but when a new girl Amber Sweet tries to join the group Mia definitely feels that two is company and three is a crowd. Amber is torn between loyalty to Mia and her own conscience as Tia is openly cruel to Amber. Tilly soon begins to question Mia's jokes and put downs. There doesn't seem to be any way Tilly can be friends with both girls, Mia won't allow it. Can she find the courage to stand up to Mia and risk having no friends? And would Amber even want to be her friend any more if she did?

Karen McCombe has captured all the meanness that girls can be capable of towards each other perfectly. She gives the reader a very strong sense of the loneliness and hurt cliques can create, and the sadness of being left out. This book has a very strong message to it, that children need to stand up for what they believe and not be led by another. It encourages children to think before accepting stories told about another child, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. It presents teachers as more understanding than a child might think, and a source of help in difficulties, but most of all, it teaches children to help themselves. This is an excellent story about a young girl finding her voice, doing what is right, and finding a true friend in the process. It isn't completely a happily ever after tale; Barrington Stoke books are to close to real life for that, but it is a perfect ending to a wonderful story. Sweetness and Lies is told in the first person, and while the grammar may not always be 100% correct, it is told in a child's voice. I could easily picture many of the young girls I have known saying the exact same words, and this gives the story a sense of authenticity. The illustrations are not to my taste, but that doesn't matter; they are very much to the taste of tween to teenage girls I know, and this book is written for them. The characters faces do remind me of dolls, but when I see girls of this age drawing pictures, this is what they try to recreate. The illustrations are skilfully drawn and exactly what the children want.

Sweetness and Lies is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence. This book has plenty of high quality illustrations as well, which can really help children to visualise the story. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children, but at a much lower reading level than the interest level. This book is listed as reading age of eight and an interest age of eight to twelve. I would extend this just a little bit and recommend for children from eight to fourteen.

If this book appeals then you might also like to try:

Six Words and a Wish by Karen McCombie

Older readers might appreciate:

Them by L A Weatherly

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Buy Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sweetness and Lies by Karen McCombie and Jessica Secheret at

Bookinterviews.jpg Karen McCombie was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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