Joy Court - Editorial Expert

About Joy Court

Joy Court is Reviews Editor for The School Librarian journal and Past Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals.

Previously she managed the Schools Library Service in Coventry where she established the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards and the Literally Coventry Book Festival, but now just concentrates on books and libraries as a freelance consultant.  She has chaired and spoken on panels at festivals and conferences around the UK. She is also a Trustee and member of the National Council of the United Kingdom Literacy Association where she sits on the selection panel for the UKLA Book Awards and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of The English Association.

Author of Read to Succeed: strategies to engage children and young people in reading for pleasure (2011) and Reading By Right: successful strategies to ensure every child can read to succeed (2017) FACET and author of several Riveting Reads annotated booklists for the School Library Association, most recently, with Daniel Hahn, Riveting Reads- a world of books in translation (2017)

Latest Reviews By Joy Court

Best-selling father and son have turned their attention to the dangers of prescription drug misuse, but as one might expect from the master of dystopian fiction, this comes with a twist. Imagine drugs personified as Greek Gods looking down from Olympus tasked with bringing people to The Party (addiction) and all the way to the ‘end of the line’- the VIP lounge (overdose and death). We know the stakes are high- the book opens with the painful and shocking description of the death of I. Ramey, but when we meet siblings Ivy and Isaac we do not ... View Full Review
Skin of the Sea
This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea. From this and her ... View Full Review
The Supreme Lie
Despite being set in the 1920’s in the imaginary country of Afalia, this stunning and inventive story, from twice Carnegie medal winning author McCaughrean, has powerful messages about the current state of politics, big business and environmental exploitation in our world and most loudly of all about the need for reliable and independent news sources. The story is partly revealed by facsimile newspaper cuttings and it is fascinating to see the progression from real information to manipulation of popular opinion by ruthless and deadly corrupt officials. Gloria, a naive 15-year-old maid to the Suprema, Alfalia’s ruler, is ... View Full Review
Gloves Off
In English teacher Louise Reid’s first venture into the verse novel, she uses the form magnificently using layout and different font sizes and styles to show as well as tell Lily’s story. We meet her in the opening poem, Roadkill at her lowest ebb. Bullied at school and battered and abused outside it, betrayed by childhood ‘friends’ and mentally trapped in a self-critical prison. This is an unflinching portrait of a girl who does not fit in and who hates herself. But it is also a picture of a family in poverty and the ... View Full Review
The Cousins
Fans of the blockbuster crime thrillers like One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus would like no better Christmas treat than this, another novel full of fascinating characters and a plot full of family secrets, jaw-dropping twists and a touch of romance. Narrated in the first person by the three eponymous cousins and occasionally by their parents at the same age, we can see the secrets they are keeping as well as watching the Story story gradually unravel. The original quartet of Story siblings were brought up in the lap of luxury on a glamorous tiny resort ... View Full Review
Nevertheless She Persisted
Both Clara and Nancy are very much the victims of a pre-World War 1 society dominated by men. Clara the eldest has fought her way out of the family home and out of the clutches of an abusive father but cannot escape her guilt at leaving Nancy to take her place and face an unwanted pregnancy, a painful birth and the wrench of giving her child away. Clara is proud to have found a job which also provides accommodation and now sees this as the solution for her sister too. Life as a prison guard in Holloway is certainly challenging not ... View Full Review
Voyage of the Sparrowhawk
I challenge any reader, young or old, not to want to devour this book in one delicious sitting. Once started upon the story of Lotti and Ben, two orphans living in the aftermath of World War 1 and who could not be more different in temperament or background, it is impossible to put down. Initially and understandably wary, they gradually become each other’s best friend and staunch allies in their respective quests for family and a safe haven for an increasing number of dogs. Their odyssey takes them, in the faithful old narrowboat which has been Ben’s ... View Full Review
Double Carnegie winning Patrick Ness proves yet again how effortlessly he can weave a tale that juggles apocalyptic themes and astonishing action with the truly personal sphere of beliefs and actions while dealing with issues as powerful as racism, homophobia and the morality of war and underlaying it all with deeply tender stories of love. Sarah Dewhurst, finds herself at the centre of an age-old prophecy about humans and dragons, as revealed to her by Kazimir the sardonic Russian Blue dragon hired by her father in a last-ditch attempt to save their farm from bankruptcy. She also learns that an ... View Full Review
Following the critically acclaimed Stepsister, this is the Carnegie medal winning authors second ‘ feminist’ fairytale and one that could not be more pertinent to our times. The heart is a powerful symbol and princess Sophie has continually been told that she is too weak, too kind-hearted, too emotional to ever be queen. This is the ‘poison’ which has been constantly dripped into her ear sapping her confidence and self-belief. So far, so familiar, but what makes this tale so psychologically engrossing is that we see the effect of ‘poison’ on the wicked stepmother ... View Full Review
The Body Image Book for Girls Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless
Cambridge University Press’s first venture into mass market publishing is certainly worth a place in any school library. Authored by a Professor in Psychology, whose research specialises in body image issues, the reader can have every confidence that the contents are backed up by authoritative evidence, but this is no dry academic tome. As she states in her introduction, Dr Mackey is a mother of 12 and 14-year-old girls so she really cares about girls having the information they need to make the right decisions and to develop healthy habits. When young girls are bombarded with images of airbrushed ... View Full Review
What's Going On Inside My Head?
Part of a successful series of books written by the author, who is an experienced specialist in PSHE and SRE education, this provides a child friendly introduction to mental and emotional health and will prove its value within both home and school contexts. The publisher describes the series as ‘helping grown-ups have difficult conversations with little people’ and this is exactly what this book does. The lively and amusing illustrations help to engage the reader and the scenarios provide prompts for discussion and the explanations are perfectly pitched and yet in enough depth to provide many a useful ... View Full Review
All the Things We Never Said
Raw, honest and powerfully emotional this debut novel is an important contribution to understanding mental health and well being. Three beautifully drawn, distinctive and compelling voices narrate this heartbreakingly honest story. All three are young women dealing with depression and mental health issues. The story starts with Mehren and the depression and anxiety which she personifies as “Chaos” are overwhelming her life causing her to sign up to a terrifyingly authentic suicide website called MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death. This is where she met Cara and ... View Full Review